EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Copyright © Geoff Thompson 2007 All rights reserved. The right of Geoff Thompson to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Condition of Sale This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher. Summersdale Publishers Ltd 46 West Street Chichester West Sussex PO19 1RP UK www.summersdale.com Printed and bound in Great Britain ISBN: 1-84024-597-2 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-597-4

As always, with big love and thanks to my beautiful wife Sharon for carrying my bones over some tough terrain. Thank you to my lovely friend Margaret Ring for being an inspiration to me and my children over many a McDonald’s coffee.

Also by Geoff Thompson Red Mist Watch My Back: The Geoff Thompson Autobiography The Elephant and the Twig: The Art of Positive Thinking The Great Escape: The 10 Secrets to Loving Your Life and Living Your Dreams Fear – The Friend of Exceptional People: Techniques in Controlling Fear Shape Shifter: Transform Your Life in 1 Day The Formula: The Secret to a Better Life Stress Buster: How to Stop Stress from Killing You Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours .

...........................................................................................................75 Night-travellers...............9 Carp Fishing.41 Goals................80 Reciprocal Returns.................................................................................149 You Are What You Ingest........114 There is No Land Rover..........................108 The Reciprocal Universe..............68 Looking Out...126 Waterfall....................................................................................7 Be Nice..............140 Who am I to be a Success?.....Contents Foreword..................................................................................131 We Are All Dying...83 Suffering................135 What do You Want to do?.................................................................................................................................................................................98 The Pornographic Wasp......47 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support............................................................................................................................118 They Laughed at Lowry..................................153 ......................................122 Time.................................................. Looking In.....................................93 The Blame Trap.........................................30 Everything that Happens to Me is Good...........................................................................18 Change Chaser....................................................................................35 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option...............14 Catching Crabs ........103 The Power of Books.............................86 The Art of Restriction......60 Have Your Cake and Eat It...............................................................23 Easy.....................................................................................64 Intention...................................................................................................27 Everest................................................................................................


Foreword Although I am primarily a writer of books and films. quick read. over the years I have also penned a bevy of articles for newspapers. (And whatever you do. magazines and my website. I hope this proves to be just that. Geoff Thompson 7 . I’ve also added a few extended and revised extracts from my book The Elephant and the Twig because they fit the ethos of this work. After many requests from readers (and several prompts from Richard Barnes. my friend and web master) I have decided to collect my favourites into the book you have before you now. I personally love an uplifting article on the commute to work or a cerebral snack over lunch. don’t give me a book to read in the loo – I might never come out again.) There is something very satisfying and enjoyable (I think) about filling one of life’s many stolen or idle moments with a good.


Chapter 1 Be Nice I read a fabulous poem once that has always stuck with me. not because it is sweet. And yet the mention of the reciprocality of genuine niceness does not seem to find its way into the reams of written work on doing business. 9 . How bizarre.’ I think we can assume from this small ditty that the man in question was a nice man who had stumbled upon one of life’s great secrets: What you give out will return. as long as you are not being nice for profit. rather because it is true. The poem went. ‘I knew a man they called him mad the more he gave the more he had. There is a massive profit in being nice.

Simply be nice. People are often guilty of believing that everyone has an agenda – especially those who dare to be nice. courage in business. innovation. about ethics. Some quoted great sages. I have read books by the guys and gals that have made it. made it and squandered it. lost it. and dedication. The business world can often be a very difficult.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD In my pursuit of freedom through information I have studied everything from religion to spirituality. about profit and loss. from theology to philosophy and law. Even the ones that were terrible taught me about where I didn’t want to be. lost it and made it back again. and even those that made it and hid the proceeds under the bed in a biscuit tin for fear of losing it all. about morals. It is not hard. Nobody does 10 . made it and given it all away. those that dare to give and ask nothing in return. and of course I have read – looking for inspiration – plenty about business. The books have all been enlightening. philosophers and gurus and taught about the dangers of money and power. Many of the books talked about the win-win mentality. risk taking. cynical environment. But none advised me about the most important lesson in business: Be nice. It costs nothing and it goes a hell of a long way (and comes back laden with profit). Those who scratch backs without asking for their own to be scratched are often judged with the utmost scepticism. the art of making a living. speculation.

People are throwing work at him. State of Play. His capacity to help others to fulfil their 11 . But of course this is not true. It is the law. He never stops being nice. You might think that his success is simply because of his hard work. He is a dynamo. They all do things for me – and for many others – with no thought of profit. He is also an extremely generous man. Touching Evil and Linda Green to name just a few of the shows he’s created. most inspiring people in my world are all nice. Clocking Off. I have a friend. his work ethic even more so. both with his time and his advice. Always. He has deals and contracts and commissions coming out of his very eyes. You’d be wrong. They are all generous.BE NICE anything for nothing. who is an incredibly successful writer. He is responsible for (most recently) Shameless. His house is like Euston Station on a Friday afternoon with all the comings and goings of the people he is helping. Paul Abbot. What you give out always returns. There is no such thing as a free lunch. His work is amazing. For those who don’t know him. most attractive. If you go to his house and watch how he works you will see why he is so successful. They are all kind and do good deeds purely for the love of doing them. He never stops giving. The best. he is probably the top British TV writer of all time.

often writers that the system has chewed up and spat out. she has found immortality in the minds of many people (not least mine) just because she was so generous and nice. even create work for them. People will bend themselves into all sorts of contorted shapes (including over backwards) so that they can help. The effect is amazing. And the more he gives away the more he seems to get back.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD own ambitions and dreams seems limitless. as is Paul. The great thing about Paul and Glenn and May is that most of the people they look after are not even in a position to return the favour. Even if – at this present moment in time – their game is not as sharp as it might be. And my Auntie May (sadly now deceased) literally filled the room with her capacity to be nice and to give for no other profit than the joy it brought her. I have found that people want to work with people who are nice. and how many people he helps without asking anything in return. Glenn is thriving in business and life. He gets in loads and loads of work and gives much of it away to new writers. Similarly. people will help them tighten their game. or offer them anything other than gratitude. Ultimately. people will go out of their way to find. And yet the more they give the more they seem to get. If they are nice. struggling writers. and although my Auntie May is no longer on this plane. And I am not talking 12 . I am always hearing stories about how nice my friend Glenn Smith is.

) But I would argue that if you are not nice. 13 .BE NICE about pseudo-nice. nice for the effect. I am sure that to some of the hard-line business people out there this might sound a little trite: ‘Be a nice person. If the nice you are offering is not of the genuine variety then it is a lie.’ I have even been told that there is no room in business for nice people. and whilst profit may sojourn with those who do not heed the rules. it will only find permanent abode with those who do. People like it when you are nice. Being nice because it helps others. There is no profit in being nice. there will ultimately be no room in business for you. nice to fit in or even nice to impress. Dishonesty in business is always the eventual harbinger of doom. (Business types often mistake nice for weak. unless being nice is congruent with who you actually are. I am only talking about the genuine article. The meek (as they say) will inherit the earth.

I was also right in the middle of a very big book signing tour (for Watch My Back) that saw me visiting 60 shops in about 32 cities. the teaching. Bouncer and On The Door) into a hardcover omnibus edition and self-publish it in a bid to make The Sunday Times bestseller list. As well as the tour. As you can imagine 14 . I had also undertaken a huge financial risk when I decided to amalgamate all my bouncer books (Watch My Back. Scotland with my friend Peter Consterdine. of which Edinburgh was but one. But teaching was just one of the myriad balls I was juggling at the time. I was teaching in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.Chapter 2 Carp Fishing I can remember (as though it were yesterday) a troubling internal conflict that I was wrestling with about five-years ago. and the heavy travelling schedule.

Peter has always been a mentor to me. I was becoming anxious and angry. by me – decided to make it their life’s mission to slander and threaten me via the Letters page of the very magazine I was a columnist in. But with my mind stretched and vulnerable it found its way through my bullshit detector and was stabbing at my sensitive underbelly.CARP FISHING I was stretched. In fact. my profile. It made me question whether I wanted the profile I was receiving and. until fate intervened. he was the one who initially took me under his wing and helped me develop some very raw ideas into books. but they nevertheless found page space and were read by thousands. whether I wanted to actually be on the martial-arts scene at all if it spawned and seemingly encouraged such inane negativity. But I was handling it OK. that is. Now you might think that this is par for the course when you are a profiled author. The nature of the letters – very personal and derogatory – were both unjustified and unfair. I was troubled so I spoke with Peter about it one night in the bar of the Malmaison Hotel. tapes and 15 . Someone – disgruntled by my work. At any other time I probably would have left the slander where it belonged – in the bin. but with everything I was already carrying this one thing seemed to tip me over the edge. The publication of these letters actually made me question whether I really wanted to write for this magazine anymore. in fact. my success.

Apparently it had become more important that his health and his sanity. It was more important to him than his wife. He told me that he was watching television one day and happened to catch a news story about a professional angler who appeared on TV regularly and had won a lot of major championships. dumfounded. it’s not starving children in Africa. He’d been riding the high-tide of success when something happened that changed. what had started out as a gentle pastime.’ This guy had become so engrossed in his sport that. Peter told me how he’d watched the story unfold on television and. his life. Peter listened intently. ‘It’s just carp fishing. nay ruined. had actually become his whole world. It’s not cancer. ‘Carp fishing?’ Peter explained. split up with his wife and even lost his home. ‘Geoff. 16 . Now Peter didn’t say whether our man was guilty or innocent. started taking medication. his home. He is largely responsible for the success I enjoy in the martial arts today. his family.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD seminars. nodded wisely (as he does) and said. It’s carp fishing. but what he did say was that the guy became so worried/angry/ incensed and stressed about the accusation that he became depressed. thought to himself. Just before one of the major championships. it’s carp fishing!’ I said (more than a little confused). it’s not war in the Middle East. it had become everything. he was accused of using illegal bait.

about not letting things become bigger than they really are. His father said.’ This reminded me of another friend who went to see his father – a war veteran – for advise about a problem he was having. and what has stayed with me ever since. ‘Then you don’t really have a problem. and a few letters. and as we should all know. an individual. We focus on them so intently that we lose our valuable sense of perspective. His father asked him. ‘Is someone going to kill you?’ My friend said no. far from being important. is the fact that the criticism I was receiving. It was an opinion. 17 . It is very difficult for the eyes to see clearly what the mind has got completely out of focus. It’s not life and death. ‘It’s one man. and when this happens molehills quickly start becoming mountains. mountains can often be (or appear to be) insurmountable.CARP FISHING What Peter pointed out to me. someone who was probably very angry because I was out there doing it. Geoff. As Peter said to me. And an opinion from some yokel who had never stepped into the arena himself.’ What I learned from this valuable lesson is that we often take ourselves and our problems way too seriously. was just carp fishing. while he was one of the faceless multitude that liked to jeer from the bleachers because they were too scared to step into the ring. I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s all about perspective.

salty men of the sea lowered a mesh basket onto the ocean bed and.Chapter 3 Catching Crabs I watched a documentary when I was younger about how fishermen catch crabs (no. even when the fishermen removed the lid. yet still they didn’t try to escape. 18 . in no time at all. not them kind). What fascinated me most was not that they had crawled into what seemed an obvious trap. After a few minutes it became clear to me why. Eventually the basket filled to the brim with crustaceans. caught a couple of unlikely crabs that crawled in via a small hole in the lid and made their first (inadvertent) steps from basket to crabstick. rather I was disturbed by the fact that they did not crawl back out again. I watched in awe as these leathery-faced.

her face turned rolled-in-flour white. ‘What do you want to leave for?’ they would ask patronisingly.’ Then came the coup de grâce: ‘There’s no security out there. ‘This is a steady job. you know!’ ‘But I hate it here. the other crabs (the blighters) pulled him back in again. 19 . ‘You haven’t given it a chance! You’ve only been here five minutes.’ Similarly. It’s safe.) ‘So how long have you been here then?’ I asked one day. claws raised. had pulled me back again. ‘I hate the place. (In fact.CATCHING CRABS Every time a crab tried to crawl out of the trap. went straight to work.’ ‘And what do you think of it?’ ‘It’s crap. I was amazed! I was watching my life’s metaphor.’ came the usual response. when I told my (ex) wife that I wanted to leave my steady job at the chemical factory. I’d been there six years. tired of the unchanging replies.’ he said without hesitation. The old crab. ‘But what will we do? What if we don’t make the mortgage? What if it doesn’t work out? What if… ’ It usually only took a few ‘what if ’s’ to get my blood boiling. ‘Oh about thirty years. face like a walnut. thought for a second.’ I’d whine. my peers. The old guy. on the offensive. Every time I had ever tried to leave a bad job and break away. like the crabs.

HP payments. ‘What can I do to get out of this nightmare?’ I felt so trapped. Many times I picked up my biro in a fit of inspiration to write my way out of the factory by penning (what I dreamed would be) the next bestseller. I’d been pulled back so many times in my life that I too felt disheartened. a cat and a Raleigh Racer. the very thought of that long ride still inspires a depression that reminds me how grateful I am to have found a way out. And the longer I stayed the more glue I got stuck in. three children. a mortgage. so many things that kept me glued to a job I hated. Even today. So the pen would be discarded and replaced by bicycle clips and a ride to the factory for a night shift that I abhorred. I could never think of anything else I wanted to do other than write. it was drowned by the voices of my inner crabs. I used to sit in the works canteen in the dead of night when everyone else was tucked up in bed and think. but I had allowed others to convince me that 20 . Self-depreciation became part of my inner core. after being pulled back a few times. The moment an entrepreneurial thought entered my mind. only to be thwarted by a faulty internal dialogue that was stronger than my will to continue. I had a family. 20-years on. I noticed that.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD As I watched the documentary. the disheartened crabs not only stopped trying to escape but they also joined the other crabs in pulling back those that did try.

Then one night. Monday-to-Friday life of oil and grime. She wasn’t holding me back at all.CATCHING CRABS I was dreaming and that this was not a real option. nothing and no one would be able to stop me. My nightmarish employment was no more her fault than it was the fault of the old timers at the factory or my peers. Those around me only stopped me from climbing out of the basket because I let them. But. She gave me her permission. I was up to my kneecaps in the brown stuff out of choice. believed it could be done and had a little faith in my own power. after my usual session of Sunday-evening bitching. leave the city. I nearly fell over with the shock. even mountains would crumble. even leave the country for that matter. She retracted her claws. Well. I resigned myself to a nine-to-five. Blaming others was my way of hiding from my own fear. I convinced myself. I realised at this point – looking in the mirror not at a hard-done-by 20-something but at a frightened youth – that if I didn’t want to stay in a job. The fault was entirely mine. told me to shut my moaning gob and get a job that I did like if I was so unhappy. That was when the realisation hit me like a hefty tax bill. if I really wanted to leave the factory. I was stuck in the factory because my wife wouldn’t let me leave. 21 . my wife did something unprecedented. it wasn’t my fault. If I put my heart and soul into doing something.

I left my steady job of seven years and entered the real world of opportunity and excitement. 22 . I could be anything. so many places to go. I snatched back my free will.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I could do anything. I realised that the only security I needed was the knowledge that no matter what happened. I have never looked back. Shortly after the shock of this realisation. It was brilliant. exciting and scary. I climbed out of the basket. This was my world. I made a decision. Me. I could and would handle it. my incarnation. So much to do. A few years later my mates were all made redundant from the secure ‘job-for-life’ in the factory.

I have been thinking a lot of late about why people don’t succeed in life. To me. You will get what you steadfastly wish for. but getting what you want comes with a price tag. it meant that you should be careful when practising manifestation (the art of manifesting your desires and intentions) because it is an awesomely potent force that works.’ I heard this saying many years ago and sort of innately knew what it meant. and why so many settle for second best when the whole world is open to them. That price tag is change. at the time. I 23 . ‘What the hell does that mean?’): ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it.Chapter 4 Change Chaser Have you ever heard the saying (and thought. even if. I could neither articulate it nor act upon it.

they realised that success was not just a change of job title or an award or more zeroes in the bank. Change is a word often bandied about with a flippancy that does not convey its potential for danger. rather success was and is (often) a complete change of identity. even permanent disorientation. Gandhi had a radical suggestion regarding change. Death of the old. He said that we should. on looking through. Change chasers are the leaders of this world. rather than run from the change. a complete change of who you are. Why do we fear this seemingly insignificant word? Because ‘change’ translated means death. go out and. we should not just sit and wait for the clammy grip of inevitability. we should not cower in a hole hoping that somehow change might pass us 24 . Only very few people in society really get this. Change is the one thing that we as a species tend to fear the most.’ In other words. the out-worn.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD realised that the main reason for failure is not fear of failure but rather fear of success. ‘Be the change we want to see. I have witnessed so many people stand at the doorway to greatness only to balk and pull back at the last minute because. This change can cause temporary. the worn-out and the redundant. face it and chase it. Fewer still have the bottle to take on this danger.

bang on our bag gloves. If you be the change you want to see you take away its sting. get into the fray and out of the spectator stands. an exciting and empowering third option. When the caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis. take on the odds and challenge change to take its best shot. But our free will. if you are the change. how can you fear the change? How can you fear what you are? It is not change that hurts. There is as much freedom in acceptance of change as there is pain in resisting change. ride it and use its latent and innate power to drive us. So you have a choice. be the change. It suggests that we should put in our gum shields. Change is going to happen anyway whether you like it or not. The good news is that whilst change might mean death. you de-fang it.CHANGE CHASER by on its perpetual sweep of the universe. to cower and hide from the inevitable or to be brave and be the inevitable. to garner our courage and be the constant. only our resistance to it. It has to die to the old before it can be born to the new. It is the only constant. offers us a choice. God’s great gift to mankind. We should anticipate change and be on its crest as the great wave comes in. 25 . birth of the new. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. it just as certainly means birth. if you live the change. we see the birth of the butterfly. Death of the old. If you can be the change.

26 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Have a look at your life right now. What changes are you hiding from? Which fears are pinning you down? What would you really love to do but at the same time fear to do? Why not empower yourself today and turn the tables on change by stepping out to meet it? You might be surprised to find a brand-new shiny you just waiting to shapeshift and emerge.

Chapter 5 Easy Amongst other things. I write films for a living. I have found that those who have yet to live up to their own standards will employ any available excuse to keep their pen and paper in different rooms rather than write the blockbuster they keep threatening to produce. It must be because it is all I hear people say these days. Writing is easy. But easy? I don’t think so.’ Really? Writing is my passion. ‘he writes all day.’ they say. It’s easy. but then everything is easy in hypothesis. Perhaps it seems easy from the sidelines but then everything is easy from the spectator’s stand. It is what I do. ‘Geoff doesn’t do a real job. 27 . I love it. Perhaps for the ignorant and the inexperienced it seems easy.

In this industry that is not unusual. Every major film company in Britain turned it down several times. Everyone said.) It was that attitude that helped me get the book onto The Sunday Times bestseller list. ‘Who wants to read a book about a Coventry bouncer? Leave your number in the bin. Overnight!’ So far I have been on this film for 12 years. (I’ll fucking show you. My first film went into production in January 2007. If Sharon hadn’t insisted I keep trying. I fear I might have taken the advice that I kept getting and thrown it in the bin. Let me give you an example of how easy my job is. a saint’s patience and the tenacity of a Titan.’ It was turned down by more companies than I care to remember. This is important.) When I wrote my book Watch My Back it was a similar story. Some of the early critique bordered on abusive. of course. they will be ill-prepared when reality smacks them between the eyes with demands for a steel fixer’s work ethic. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I’ve written. ‘It happened so quickly. People said.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD When I was ignorant and inexperienced I did and said exactly the same. (One of my films has been turned down by 75 different financers. If people keep thinking that success (in any field) is easy. and the only way I stayed afloat was to use that criticism to give me drive. It hurt. It 28 .

of course. Brown Paper Bag did not attract any financing at all. No one thought it was good enough to finance. and I) financed it ourselves. who re-mortgaged her house for the film. the producer and Neil Thompson. No one wanted to make it. I loved it. I could go on but I think the point it clear. the director) over two million pounds in finance. a BAFTA and entry into over thirty international festivals. All the rebuttals. It was too bleak. 29 . It weathered me like an old oak.EASY helped me write a stage play that had a national tour. so we (the producer. but… I liked it. too harsh. No one has it easy. The film that won the BAFTA. The many rebuttals tempered and energised me. Life is difficult. It helped me write a short film that attracted international film stars. Natasha Carlish. knock-backs and criticism have helped me to develop a sinewy self-belief and a self-reliance that is so muscular it has its own respiratory system. But difficult is a necessary pre-requisite to success. Then I wrote a feature film and raised (with Martin Carr. It is difficult when you feel that you are not getting any encouragement. had been done before. I developed an iron resolve.

He’d applied for money from a local screen agency to produce a film he had written and they had returned his script with a rebuttal and a list of notes on how unprepared they thought he and his work were. The critique (he felt) was so scathing that it made his eyes water.’ as he saw it) all rather personally and was struggling to carry on. I knew the feeling. My friend had taken the critique (or the ‘beasting. He told me that he was going to give up writing because the film world was (in his words) ‘biased. judgmental and a bastard to boot. He was in bits. behind the times.’ 30 . I have been there so often that I‘ve actually developed bark over my exterior to help weather the critical storms.Chapter 6 Everest A friend wrote to me.

had all but floored him. Adversity and advance are synonymous and. My friend was attempting to ascend the Everest that is making a movie but struggling (and bitching about – please don’t bitch about) the altitude. not least film-making. after all. It can be soul destroying. It is tough at the high end of any business. despite his set-back. sometimes it’s boot-in-the-bollocks painful. because it is unlikely to get easier as you climb higher. but when the experienced industry folks advised him that it wasn’t (not yet). rebuttal comes with the everyday post). 31 . he chose to see it as personal insult rather than qualified critique. it was the north wind that made the Vikings. and bad films seem to be more the norm than the exception. His email reminded me of a documentary I’d watched on TV and I told him about it in the hopes that it might inspire him to carry on. chunks of hardship can be moulded into the building blocks of strong character. where millions are lost on bad films. I tried to advise him that what he was experiencing was film-making (certainly it was a big part of the process) and that he should get used to it. He felt his work was ready. one of many I presume (in this very subjective and very demanding business. but you can’t by-pass it. in shape and filmable.EVEREST This knock-back. With a slight change in perception.

What he hadn’t prepared for (what you can’t really prepare for) was the actuality of being (as the Everest stalwarts are fond of saying) ‘on the mountain. And the higher you go (as in life) the thinner the air gets. at base camp. His training was good. The lack of air makes breathing – even for the fittest athletes – difficult.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The film was about a super-fit man who wanted to climb Everest. Now. he trained his body to perfection until he was all sinew and muscle. Until. He thought that this would be enough. To make his dream a reality. It wasn’t until he actually found himself on the mountain. he could run a fast marathon. on day one when his chest was as tight as a fat kid’s school shirt and he couldn’t catch his breath. 32 . This is why on the higher echelons of Everest (and of life) there are very few people.’ Because on the mountain the air is thin. he never really heeded the council. that is. Even helicopters fall out of the sky in these higher altitudes because the spinning blades can’t find purchase. that he realised his stamina fell short of the mark. lift heavy weights and captain his body and mind through the most excruciating physical workouts. although this man had been told many times in his preparations that the air on Everest was thin and that it would make progress slow and breathing difficult. meticulous even.

He was convinced that his breathlessness was an early sign of some mysterious mountain illness. ‘Listen! We’re on Everest. it’s a good day’). I’m a fit man. I need to be told every now and then to ‘stop the bitching and get on with it.’ And here endeth the lesson.’ Patiently the message was reiterated. ‘you don’t understand.EVEREST He complained to his companions. when you are on the mountain.’ Again. If you want more air climb a smaller fucking mountain. I am conditioned. The higher you go the less there is. As much as his companions tried to reassure him that the way he was feeling ‘was normal’ (one climber said. I should be able to breathe easier. He was fit. the neophyte climber would not have any of it. all experienced climbers. There is no air.’ I am always trying to reach higher peaks and often 33 . ‘There is very little air on the mountain. The inability to be able to get your lungs full is normal. if you wake up in the morning feeling shit when you’re on the mountain. he complained. It’s a high mountain. that he couldn’t breathe properly and they duly advised him (and reminded him) that. I need to hear it sometimes. Not being able to breathe was not normal for him. ‘No. ‘Look. this is the norm. He bitched so much that in the end one of the climbers pulled him to one side and said (very firmly).’ he insisted.

the inadequate industry support. I want to ascend into the clouds with the legends. back on my feet and moving. It always gets me psyched up. the lack of help. then so be it.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD find myself ready throw in the towel. complaining about the discomfort. 34 . And if that means less air (I haven’t got much ’air anyway). I don’t know about you but I don’t want to climb small mountains. Then I remind myself of this story.

Someone said (with a hint of a scorn and a peppering of self-pity).Chapter 7 Everything that Happens to Me is Good I heard it the other day and it made me smile. had succeeded only because I’d had it so easy. tilted a similar lance in my direction.’ Another friend. family issues. as though I was somehow impervious to the slings and arrows of life. on the other hand. 35 . He said this like nothing bad has ever happened to me. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. He has had it so easy.) I. so much so that I went and made myself a cup of tea. he lives a charmed life. He told me that his lack of commercial success was due to the fact that he has had so many things block his path (poor health. etc. a fellow writer.

m. It found its way into his bones.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I have to come clean though. It was an even longer night. not because nothing bad has ever happened to me. how to live bravely. He had cancer. My dad lived a good life. it is cause for celebration.’ It was a long day. He has left me with a great legacy of love and very valuable lessons. It was his time and I was pleased that he finally got to graduate from this hard university we call life. disliked by none. A five-minute journey to the hospital took a lifetime and when I arrived all the doctors could tell me was. Then he died. I do live a charmed life and I have had it easy. I got the five a. And that is not just good. One of my gorgeous babies took an overdose of pain killers when she was 18 years old. They were all right. It was good. He was right. He was loved by many. Let me try and explain. phone call and my heavy heart bled. It broke my heart to see him suffering so much whilst he was ill. But he has finished his brief sojourn on this spinning globe and now he is home. My lovely dad died recently. He was a good man. how to die with dignity. ‘We won’t know until tomorrow. I couldn’t even talk on the phone without breaking down. 36 . rather because everything that has happened to me has been good.

’ I trusted that this was true and it was. well. not her mum – could break her out. she went to university and met a nice guy who was appreciative of her beauty and sensitive nature. ‘Terrible what’s happened to your daughter. When he died. He was bloated and yellow and ravaged and… so very beautiful. But my brother loved the drink and the drink loved my brother. so much so that the love affair killed him. Drink was his armoury and life was his enemy and. but what happened to my daughter was good.’ I said. you can guess the rest. ‘We are sorry she is here but this is the only way we could get her out. a small voice (somewhere in my consciousness) said to me. There was more to it than that.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Someone said. My brother died violently. it was not me he called out for. When she lay in that hospital bed. I loved his very bones. not her sisters.’ My girl had fallen into a dark and loveless chasm where even the voices of her kin could not be heard. She recovered. ‘What’s happened to my daughter is the best thing that could have happened. of course. I have never felt such profound love for anyone as I felt for Ray during his five fast days of slow dying. It was not 37 . She is now happy and training to be a teacher. She was in a relationship that was imprisoning and dangerously destructive and none of us – not me. What happened to my daughter saddened me beyond words.

It was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD my mother’s name that bounced and echoed off the hospital walls. They will (they have and will again) save others. 38 . What is happening obviously needs to happen. It was difficult. The friend that passed the bottle in long days of hard drinking was very human and very broken and he loved my brother. The illness is self-inflicted. nor my dad’s. It is her soul. What happened to my beautiful brother has informed everything I do. But it was good. It is her body. That is ultimately where we are all heading. My close family and I are forced to stand by and watch this slow decline because we can’t save someone who will not be saved. another alcoholic that shared his oblivious and sad existence. I loved him. He cried out the name of his drinking companion. I was with Ray as his decaying body buckled and bled and closed down. It is her journey and it is good because all journeys lead home. The lessons he taught me – both good and bad – I pass on. I felt privileged that he chose me to watch his back as he left this life for the next. nor the names of any of his four heartbroken children. everything I write about and everything I think. It is her life. I have another family member who is dangerously ill. My brother’s death was good. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. It is her story. For that reason alone.

lost my integrity. Re-living each teeth-smashing boot to the face. The pre-fight. more beautiful place. The trail follows you until you find the courage to turn and face it and take the consequences. self-harm and illness. guilt. No self-pity here. I also fucked around. No regrets. physically. each concussive stamp and each spitting invective has been… uncomfortable. It was all good.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I also have my own story. It has been hard to forgive myself. My actions spawned ten years of karmic residue that have brought me sadness. however. represented a step on the ladder of consciousness that has delivered me to where I am now. 39 . I am left with the residual ache of remorse. in-fight and post-fight have all been excruciatingly good. lessons that are as profound as they are stark and reference points that add an empirical wisdom to every new situation that I bring upon myself. You don’t just do that shit and walk away without debt. Each of these. stole. self-hate. I carry the karma of the hundreds of guys that I fucked up on nightclub doors when I worked as a bouncer. So it has all been good. betrayed my ex-wife. fenced stolen goods and hurt my kids with my thoughtless actions. We all have to atone. mentally and spiritually. especially my back-story. a better. Much of it does not make easy reading. In my former incarnation as a man of lower consciousness. Very good.

he’s got it so easy. I know that life will continue to proffer some of its own. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. anvil and furnace to temper every blade. 40 . So.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The experiences that fell into the realms of excess have been especially good. neither will I complain because it will all be good. The road of excess (as the poet William Blake said) leads to the palace of wisdom.’ I will continue to smile. Everything that happens to me is. And when folks say. Every excess I indulged produced a lesson so painful. Although I vow never to repeat these dark experiences. I will continue to drink my tea. if in life’s next instruction I find myself revisiting those shadowy places. I do. so earth-moving that it permeated my whole consciousness. It does have a habit of providing the hammer. so profound. Because I know they’re right. I will do my very best to neither spin nor toil.

Thus if spirituality came into the conversation I followed the norm and patronisingly ‘eye-rolled’ with the rest of the sheep. I admit. Instead I 41 . Now that I am a little more self-assured I don’t need the kind of conditional security that the ‘norm’ offers. Though. I’ve always had a deep interest in the spiritual. during my woolly mammoth period as a bouncer it was buried beneath the fear of looking like a twat in front of my mates. do you think. eyes start to roll and conversational exits are surreptitiously sought? Is it. because the idea of seeking something unseen is completely at odds with today’s bodyobsessed culture? Myself.Chapter 8 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option Have you ever noticed that when you mention things of a spiritual nature.

We claim to love those close to us yet we can’t forgive our brother for a ten-year-old error in judgement. They say that forgiveness is good for the soul. sinewy mentality. nor our neighbour for a minor misdemeanour. Where I once toiled for shallow. looking good. And yet when we examine the world in which we live. when we closely examine our own lives. lifting heavy weights. We can’t forgive the foreman for the way he treats us on the factory floor. surface mastery – hitting hard. ‘I’ll forgive you. It is the doctrinal mainstay of just about every religious icon – from the Nazarene right through to Mahatma Gandhi – who has ever walked the earth. but I’ll never 42 . sometimes we feign forgiveness with the anaemic proclamation. It appears that we can’t even forgive ourselves for stupid mistakes made on our own journey through life. One of the hardest lessons I learned en route was the capacity to forgive.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD look to developing a deep-rooted internal security that is as steadfast as it is empowering. Oh. or our sister for some wrong she inflicted upon us last year. building muscle – I now labour from the inside out. pumping ‘cerebral iron’ to build a deep. but very few actually putting it into practise. And we definitely can’t exonerate ex-lovers for using us as a spousal punch-bag. we see that there are many people preaching forgiveness.

There is no great feat of strength in carrying the carcass of a long-dead argument. Holding a grudge is easy. I believe it is a great weakness of the human spirit that forgiveness is not more widely practised. Our lack of forgiveness is killing us – literally. This has a catastrophic effect upon our physiology. a physiological fight-or-flight. as though it were a great virtue.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION forget!’ Or the equally unconvincing. To forgive! Now then. You can do it without even trying.’ We even seem perversely proud of ourselves when we don’t forgive. that’s a horse of a different colour. Every time the grudge is replayed like an old movie in our mind’s eye it activates the release of stress hormones into the blood stream. It is not virtuous. We also have a great tendency to rationalise our blame with inane remarks like. I can’t forgive her. ‘I’ll never completely forgive you!’ But you can no sooner ‘partially’ forgive than you can ‘partially’ fall out of a tree. but you don’t know what she did to me. ‘Yea. It takes strength. It becomes an internal time bomb of bitterness triggered and perpetuated by every unforgiving gesture. Our failure to pardon manifests a resentment that grows with the passing of time. discipline and great understanding in order to forgive. Your contentious thought is registered by the mid-brain 43 . You either do or you do not.

But – and here’s where the problems start – because the unforgiving thought is not physical threat but simply a reminiscence. even death.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD as a physical threat. run or fight for our lives so all those redundant stress hormones lay dormant in our bodies. who you haven’t forgiven. therefore. acting like a toxic bath for the soft internal muscles like the heart. if you like. under those circumstances. behavioural fight-or-flight is not activated. Even brain cells are killed by rogue stress hormones. intestines. is still insulting you today – and you’re letting them! Logically. adequately defend the body against infiltrating viral and cancerous cells. This means that someone who insulted you ten-years ago. and you have a recipe for disaster. as though for the very first time. lungs. the best way to stop people from hurting you is to forgive them. We do not. It is already estimated that the majority of all contemporary illness finds its roots in stress. a saber-toothed tiger. This is what author Charles Handy would call ‘proper selfishness. Add to this the fact that your immune system is greatly impaired by the stress response and can’t.’ This exercise is not so much a means of helping others (though 44 . bladder and bowel. So every time you relive past upsets (because you can’t put them to bed with a heavy dose of forgiveness). your body actually relives them too.

In my younger days. ‘I will never forgive. what I was letting others do to me. or more specifically. Every time I thought about my past tormentors I could literally feel the stress hormones going to work. Forgive 45 . Like most things in life it is better to start small and build up. I even try to forgive proactively before they even do anything to upset me. I often bragged to others that. I felt as light as the proverbial feather. forgiveness is the shield and sword of the gods. I instantly let go of the past and forgave those who I had been carrying for so long. Once you forgive a person you stop carrying them.’ When I finally realised what I was doing to myself. I didn’t realise that I was on a downwards spiral to ill-health. Forgiveness needs to be localised.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION this too can be healthy) as it is a means of helping yourself. I held many grudges. Now I always make a point of forgiving people when they upset my apple cart. Many people feel that forgiveness is a weakness and this discourages them from any active practise. I also felt empowered. I am ashamed to admit that I was very proud of my collection of grudges and perennially laid them out on the table like favoured collectibles.’ and ‘one day I might even seek revenge. and for several years. In my experience. It is a great strength that should be nurtured in all people. working as a nightclub bouncer.

forgiveness is cathartic. start with a little forgiveness. an internal cleansing that is an integral piece of the longevity jigsaw. As far as health and fitness is concerned. Start with yourself. What ever they are. We all have skeletons in our closets. 46 . forgive yourself and move on.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the small things and gradually build up to the big ones. So if you want to stay fit for life.

People want success but they don’t know what in. the staff. what they thought of the campus. about ‘making it’ and ‘getting to the top. ‘To the top of what?’ Ill-defined or vague goals need to be crystallised and put in print if they stand any chance at all of making it from fiction to fact. neither is likely to transcend reverie without a little more detail and conviction. 47 . the library.Chapter 9 Goals People often talk about success. each and every student was asked their views on a number of topics relating to the university.’ Whilst goals are good and dreams are the stuff of life. I admire those that aim for the top. In a famous survey carried out in 1953 at Yale University. They want to ‘make it’ but struggle to define the vital ‘it’ part of the equation. I always find myself asking. however.

What was interesting. But not enough to write home to mum about. was the follow-up survey some twenty years later when Yale repeated the exercise. They were outstandingly different from everyone else surveyed. ‘If you have goals. Even their opinions on the campus canteen were sought. do you write them down?’ Only ten per cent of those surveyed actually had goals and of these only a minute four per cent said they actually wrote their goals down. you’ll probably agree. ‘Do you have goals?’ This question was followed by. even disappointing. The four per cent were also financially independent. in their community and financial affairs. Every imaginable question about life at Yale (and in fact. It was agreed. in their health. even disturbing. between them 48 . the four per cent who had written down their goals were all hugely successful. This time. they decided to throw a bit of currency at the project and find all the people from the original survey of 1953 to see if their youthful aspirations had come to fruition. their relationships.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the lecturers. In fact. ‘How did your life turn out?’ Amazingly. and after much globetrotting research the majority of those surveyed twenty years before were found and asked. life itself) was posed. Interesting. rather than pose the same set of questions to the current crop of final-year students. One of the most intriguing questions asked of the final-year students was.

but about time. But the millions seldom come to those who do not develop the millionaire mentality. Goals cost and for those of us unable or unwilling to pay. risk. So if you have a goal what you have to ask yourself is: 49 . And they are right. What this should tell you is that having life goals is not just important. The word ‘goal’ is tumbling from the motivational lips of just about every success guru from Deepak Chopra to Anthony Robbins. If you don’t have them. commitment and sacrifice. And I am not necessarily talking about money. And if you want them badly enough you’ll make that extra commitment to write them down. Income and lifestyle rarely exceed personal development. fulfilment is rarely forthcoming. Rather than make these sacrifices and actively seek out their dreams. It makes them official. the majority sit waiting for success to come to them – and for free. They wait for providence and fortune to show them favour. it is fundamental. But what most sellers of success fail to mention is the fact that success (in whatever form you would like it) comes at a price. you don’t get them. You need a definite destination. How can you ever get there if you don’t even know where ‘there’ is? If you have ever read a motivational book you’ll probably know this already.GOALS they were worth more than all the other 96 per cent – those who did not write down their goals – put together.

To get ‘cut-up from the gut-up’ you need to chart the right course. To build a body like Glenn you have to make sacrifices and develop a powerful will that’ll resist the Friday-night pissup/Saturday-morning fry-up scenario that follows a working week at the computer. They don’t want to pay the price. probably only five per cent ever end up looking like Glenn. Diet – the ultimate discipline – is the pre-requisite of a good physique. lots of sinewy muscle and no fat (don’t you just hate that?) He’s ripped like a skinless chicken. He has the kind of rippling torso that most men dream of seeing reflected back at them in the bathroom mirror. Why? Because the 95 per cent are not prepared to become the type of person they need to be to get a beach physique. But of all the people that come to the gym looking to achieve a similar body. or the port of beer-and-curry. But very few make it because the journey 50 . You have to get your eating down to a fine art. then have the discipline and the staying power to stick to it without deviating to the island of cake. for instance. He is in fabulous physical shape. if necessary).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Am I prepared to pay the price and become the type of person it will take to get my goal? I look at my friend Glenn. And to show your commitment that goal needs to be written down and deadlined (time limits can be extended or shortened. You need to set a course from where you are to where you would like to be.

Setting the right course It is easy to say.GOALS is too arduous.’ People set courses all the time and still fail to reach their goal. back where they started. I’d seen detailed illustrations in books and even watched demonstrations of the throw on 51 . or even worse. Whenever I go to the gym I see people sweating their way around the free-weights and machines. You might be working extremely hard but are you working in the right direction? I remember the time I wanted to develop a brilliant osoto-gari (a throwing technique in judo). But a hard workout is not just about the sweat and strain. but I only know one or two with anything like a good shape. Some kid themselves that they can take out the bits they don’t like (usually diet) and still make their destination. This is usually because they inadvertently set the wrong course and end up at the wrong destination. I’d watched good judo players perform the move a thousand times. I know a million people that workout. Next on the course is the training. ‘Set a course to where you want to go and you’ll get there. Certainly the early stages are difficult when you have to change a 25-year-old cakeand-cookie habit and replace it with a high-protein/ low-fat regime. working on the finer points and setting the right course. making all the right noises. It’s about the detail.

Consequently. but still fail because you are hacking away in the wrong jungle. I became brilliant at doing osoto-gari the wrong way. I have always prided myself on being a tenacious – even obsessive – trainer. And writing the goal down with an expected time of 52 . I got it. He knew the right way to do osoto-gari. to destruction in fact. presto. You could be the hardest worker in the world. but I was practising it wrong. So make sure that you set the right course and be prepared for the sacrifices that the journey demands. I practised hard and daily. I rarely pulled the throw off. And hey.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instructional videos. He looked at my technique and. when I sparred with other players. If you don’t know the way. The destination was set. Never mistake activity for progress. I practised osoto-gari thousands of times. we’ve established this much. In fact. those who are already where you want to be. it only has to be slightly out for you to end up completely wrong. because I had been given the right map and wanted to get there badly enough. Then I went to train with Neil Adams (Olympic silver medallist in judo). he altered my entire course. The danger of goals Goals are essential. He knew the right course. in altering one or two minor points. I reached my goal in record time. ask the right people. but my course was off. With my limited knowledge I set about achieving my goal.

He didn’t think he could run ten miles.GOALS arrival is as pivotal as setting the right course. one of his friends at the running club. He made five miles but at the final furlong the lad was exhausted. Dave. He set himself a goal of five miles. So what’s the danger in that? The danger occurs when we don’t set our goals high enough. we hit low. The next week. He asked Steve to take his place. My friend Steve is a keen runner. but a common attitude nevertheless. He set five miles on his internal clock and his body fuelled him up for exactly that. ‘I’m being realistic. But as well as all the obvious risks of aiming high – the risk of failure.’ Not the sort of mindset that smashes records. When we set goals. guess what. it was double his usual distance. I know I can do five. Small goals are fine when they act as stepping-stones to higher ideals. I might not make it. I think you’ll agree. risk of success and risk of change – there is also a hidden risk: Goals can be dangerous. By four-and-a-half miles he was flagging and every step was an effort. The other day he went out for a jog. we nearly always do. Steve was unsure. had to pull out of a ten-mile race. 53 . Sometimes we aim low and.’ he always told me. but they can be very unsatisfactory in themselves. ‘But. when we fully intend with all our heart to achieve them. He was capable of more. If I try for more.

He injected necessity and the organism grew to compensate. implementing standards that are just beyond our reach does. killed the ten miles and had a great time doing it. but he knew he was not burly enough to carry a full-grown bull. He is now preparing for his first marathon. If you set your sights too low your body and mind will fuel you accordingly. So aim higher than you think you can manage. ‘Watch this space. a historical strong man whose life goal was to carry a full-grown bull on his shoulders. So instead of making his way to the nearest 54 . Paradoxically.’ Steve ran the race. Setting achievable goals does not push and stretch our limits.’ Milo was strong both mentally and physically. ‘Impossible.’ said his friends. ‘Don’t set your sights so high on the first shot that you become overwhelmed. ‘Oh yea?’ he replied. If you can’t finish it’s not the end of the world.’ Dave said. Milo the Great There is a wonderful story about Milo the Great. ‘just set your sights on ten. but not so high you lose sight of your goal.’ Had Steve gone from a five-mile jog to the London marathon (26 miles) he might well have written a cheque that the bank could not honour. I would say.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD ‘Don’t worry.

You could use the same principle to buy your dream house. It could be anything. picking up the bull was done in pyramidic stages. Milo – to the astonishment of all – could carry the full-grown bull on his shoulders. a college degree or a promotion at work. build your business or increase your fitness level. Milo’s strength grew to compensate. as the calf matured and fattened. Day by day. For Milo. and subsequently pyramiding his own strength to match. Your bull may not be a hairy creature with horns and a nose-ring (sounds like a girl I once dated). His legs expanded in width and strength and his torso transformed into the shape of a door wedge. he grew with the bull. Eventually. he went out and bought himself a calf and kept it in his back garden. rather it might be your business. you should allow your growth to be gradual and organic. you don’t have to pick up the bull right away.GOALS farmer’s field and trying to winch a horned beast onto his back. He used short-term goals (picking up the calf every day) to power him towards his long-term ideal. Many people have bought fabulous homes by 55 . Perhaps your goal is to buy your dream house (with a bull-sized mortgage). Like Milo. It isn’t always advisable to try. By picking up the bull as it grew. Every day Milo would go out into the yard and – after a little warm-up – lift the calf onto his shoulders and walk around with it. Instead.

Hard work? No harder than working your doo-daas off with no goal in mind. When they get within reach of the top they rest. acclimatise. It is all done in pyramidic steps. acclimatise and then. they attempt the peak. on bad days they may not even leave the tent. they may (and often do) exceed their quota. but when you do the risk rises proportionately. climb up more than one rung at a time. They set themselves daily goals. They buy a small house. sell it and use the profit (plus their savings. It can be done. Goal pyramid You could even build a goal pyramid to chart your steps from short-term to long-term goals. eat. when the weather is clement. Others thrive on it. You can jump steps. aiming to climb x amount of metres by nightfall. then step by step. Some people crumble when danger comes aboard. perhaps) to move up the property ladder towards their dream cottage in the country. It’s all down to how much risk you can take. If conditions are favourable. they scale to the summit of the mountain. They make their way first to a base camp. 56 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD using the calf/bull principle. Mountaineers do this to allow themselves recuperation and acclimatisation to new heights. I’m not saying that this is the only way.

the discipline. in their achievement – arriving at our destination is secondary. Dorothy wants to get back home to Kansas.GOALS I remember my mum using this principle to help my dad lose weight. Dorothy and her troupe of mates are seeking a common ideal – the Wizard. as you might imagine. He was carrying a belt-busting belly that was getting unhealthy (and unsightly) but he wouldn’t hear of going on a diet. a man who (they believe) can help them to achieve their individual goals. It was so gradual he hardly noticed. worried about his health. His selfdiscipline wasn’t up to the job. The adversity of a hard climb is what forges character. the weight fell off him. Follow the Yellow Brick Road In the film The Wizard of Oz. gradually started to cut the size of his dinner down a tiny bit at a time and over a long period. As the dinner sizes decreased. The greatest benefit of setting and achieving goals is the skills. the tenacity. the Tin Man needs a heart 57 . the Cowardly Lion wants to find courage. My mum. The real value of setting goals is not. Your whole world will change immeasurably for the better as a consequence. the information and the leadership qualities you’ll develop along the way. Before he knew it he was eating light and healthy meals and looking and feeling good.

through their journey – first to Oz and then to kill the witch – earned it through their own efforts. symbols of their courageous quest. But he doesn’t. Whilst each believes they have been given their goal free of charge. the Scarecrow a university diploma and Dorothy the knowledge that the power to return home was in her all along. the Tin Man a heart-shaped watch. He gives the Cowardly Lion a medal of valour. The Tin Man develops a heart through a multitude of kind and charitable acts. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the West (‘I’m melting. Each of them believes that the Wizard will simply give them. What the Wizard gives them amounts to little more than trinkets.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the Scarecrow is desperate for a brain. the Cowardly Lion develops courage by facing his fears and protecting his friends against the witch and her army of mad. I’m melting’) they return to Oz. He sends them on a hunt and promises to help them when they return. He can’t. 58 . Their real goal started to manifest when they committed themselves fully to the task and agreed to pay the toll and take the risks. On the journey. their dream. The Scarecrow develops his brain by working out intricate game plans to find and then escape the witch. free of charge. What he can and does do is give them the means to achieve their dreams. The Wizard reluctantly keeps his word. in actuality they have. flying monkeys.

long-term objective from the safety of my king-sized duvet. there is one thing I have learned and one thing I know: We can achieve anything. I can have anything. ‘Can I become the kind of person it will take to get it?’ Who we become is far more important than what we get. mountains will move and rivers will part. we all can. ‘Can I have this goal’ because I already know I can. If we set our goals to paper and intend them to happen. When I look at my lofty.GOALS Goals are as individual as fingerprints and one man’s nirvana is often another man’s nervous breakdown. Rather I ask myself. Whatever your goal. nothing is beyond us. I don’t ask myself. 59 .

60 . depression – that we stop to appreciate just what we have. our health and the love and health of those dear to us.Chapter 10 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support Sometimes we get so caught up in the maelstrom of life. ambition and achievement that we fail to realise what is really important in our lives. all that we have had and all that we will receive in the future. It often seems that we don’t really appreciate our lot until it might be taken away from us. We forget to stop and thank God for all that we have. I know that I am often guilty of this and it is something that I intend to remedy because gratitude is more vital to our well-being than money or position or prospects. a loss. It is only after we hit a snag in life – an illness.

but by giving thanks for what they have already received and for what they know they will receive in the future.). It would be unwise 61 . Mother Teresa said that without her morning prayer and meditation (like Deepak Chopra she started early in the day. mentally and physically – for the day. even – perhaps especially – when we think we don’t. We all need a bit of invisible support. It’s a bit like filling your car with fuel in the morning in anticipation of the day’s journey. They start their day not by asking for more. A big part of their daily ritual consists of thanking God for everything they have. One ounce of prevention. after all. but it also gives them the opportunity to fuel-up – spiritually. Not only does this morning mediation give them the chance to offer gratitude. Deepak Chopra. This is how great people achieve great things. Gandhi and Mother Teresa – I notice that they all start their day with meditation and prayer.m. she could never have sustained herself throughout the day.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT When I look at the people I admire – Jesus Christ. They pray preventatively so that they don’t end up in a muddle in the first place. They rely on God and through Him all things are possible. from four until six a. The spiritually aware are not in the habit of relying entirely upon themselves to achieve great things. is better than a pound of cure. Great people don’t get themselves in a muddle (too often) and then run to prayer (like most of us) to get fixed up.

insight. But if you were to start now. It takes discipline. but the change only lasts long enough to get them out of the rough and then ‘bang!’. Now if we were able to employ honest perception (‘I know what 62 . they (me. If you are lucky you may end up broken down only yards away from a nearby garage (not too much of an inconvenience).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to just get up and drive your vehicle until it runs out of fuel. being more patient. You might. What I am suggesting here – and this is as much for me as it is for you – is that the change you are always threatening (better diet. however. I don’t know of anyone who has not reached a crisis point at least once in their lives and thought. But – as the saying intimates – it involves pain. and it is. all of us) end up falling back into their old ways and the pain of the past is hardly remembered. then before you know it you would be riding the next wave rather than being bashed against the rocks (again). ‘I’ll get myself right and then I’ll change (and I mean it this time). end up broken down miles from anywhere with a long and inconvenient walk to the nearest fuel station. while the idea is fresh in your mind. you.’ And then they get themselves right and they change. courage and a heck of a lot of self-knowledge. They say that pain is a good advisor. less jealous) is far better implemented from the solid clearing of the healthy here-and-now than it is from the out-of-balance. destined-to-arrive tomorrow.

‘I’ll get myself right then I’ll change (and I mean it this time’). 63 . we could avoid the worst pain by tackling it while it is still just a niggle on the periphery of our knowing.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT needs to be changed’) and a bit of will (‘I am strong enough to make that change’). Or you could simply wait (like the last time) to get yourself buried up to the neck in problems and then try and muster the courage to pull yourself back out again. likely with the promise that.

after a two-week holiday in Florida. I presume) – returns with a vengeance and you have to make new holes in your belt. but as a man with the propensity to grow. Now I don’t know about you. Almost as soon as you lose the pounds (sometimes stones) and your jeans stop straining at the seams. It’s depressing. isn’t it? 64 .Chapter 11 Have Your Cake and Eat It Go into any bookshop worth its salt and you’ll find a pile of books and magazines offering the latest lose-fat-and-still-eat-chips diet that will allow you – or your money back – to have your cake and eat it. to the size of a small continent. I have tried all the fad diets. the very same weight – and a bit more (for inflation. And they all work… but only for a while.

All of a sudden the nuts and crisps.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT It wouldn’t be so bad but all the really tasty stuff simply oozes fat-gut. and my weight stays at a comfortable 13 stone nine. I was so thin that I wanted to put on weight. sometimes even longer. the beers and curries started to take their toll and I developed what can only be described as a wide-load arse. I only have to look at the biscuit barrel and I grow another chin. but my in-a-hurry metabolism burnt calories as quickly as I could extract them from Kit-Kats and kormas. My food-abuse period was over. I can be good for months at a time. As little as a week on a take-away fest leaves me with a skincoloured bum-bag that wobbles in time with my step. Then I hit 30. From then on in my weight has gone up and down like a busy lift. At thirty my internal calorie-crunching gizmo switched to a lazy three-day week. my legs start going all Sumo. the salad and chicken renaissance lay in wait. When I was 19 and clothes-line thin I could empty the contents of an industrial fridge without clocking up a single extra number on the bathroom scales. I take every opportunity 65 . though. weight gain. nibbling on health biscuits that taste like manila envelopes. When the weight is off I float around like a featherlight thing in tight fitting tee shirts tucked into bottom-hugging jeans. In fact. The minute I get a fry-up down my neck.

high-fibre diets that have you shitting through the eye of a needle. A man needs his strength after all. My selfesteem drags around behind me like a wedding train. and beer and puddings that I might as well mould right onto my belly. take-away curries. When I’m thin. however. even when the wind is whistling my nipples into biker studs. Even sex takes a backseat because it involves nakedness and hours of holding in my belly. And the apparel changes accordingly. my self-esteem rises to the rooftops. My world becomes one of chip dinners (I hide away in greasy-Joe cafes). wine. food-combining diets that are so complicated your brain throbs like a hammered thumb and sends you racing to the nearest chippy for a carb/fat/calorie top-up. When the weight is on.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to remove my top and bare my torso. rationalisation. I have tried them all. high-protein diets that turn your stools to rocks (ouch). low-carb diets that leave you so hungry you start nicking food off the kids’ plates and snacking on carpet tiles. As I said. And the fruit diet! What’s that all about then? I’ve been on it and no matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t make a grape look or taste like a Malteser! 66 . beltless trousers with the top two buttons undone. hidden by trench-coat sweatshirts that obliterate everything from the neck to the knees. a dark cloud descends on my day.

but not all of what you want. but it works. I’m going to heed my mum’s advice (offered to me when I hit a hefty 16 stone): ‘Walk past that chip shop. I’ve come to the conclusion that disciplined light eating for the rest of my life is the only way to stop me from looking like a doughnut.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT So what is the answer? How do I keep my sylph-like physique with all the culinary temptations constantly battling to fatten me up? After 40 years of counting calories. Geoffrey. Have some of what you want. train every other day and you’ll keep the fat-monster at bay. It’s difficult.’ 67 . and you can never let up. hunting for the fat content on the backs of crisp packets and watching my bungee-belly bounce backwards and forwards from six pack to party seven. I dream that the Hereafter might be a paradoxical universe where Mars Bars and crisp sandwiches are the vital sustenance of life. In the meantime.

fashioning random realities with our unskilled and unschooled thoughts. complete with cloud-bathing heavens and barrelscraping hells.Chapter 12 Intention There has been much written of late about intention. What you strongly intend today you are sure to live out in all your tomorrows. When we are in heaven we call it a fluke or a happy accident. When we are in hell we call it ‘karmic return’ or we talk about ‘spiteful God. We are creators of denial. Some say (and I agree with them) that intentions are the building blocks of the universe. This is both exciting and terrifying. Most of us are not well-practised with our intentions so we tend to create our universe accidentally.’ The truth is neither. then looking outside ourselves to praise or 68 .

They blame no one. The very act of blaming gives your power over to the object of your blame. to blame. If you blame God. This is a weak place to reside because it is so disempowering. People with a lower level of consciousness revel in the blame culture. anyone. society. You always become a prisoner of those you blame.INTENTION blame when our creation makes us happy or sends us into a dizzy depression. then you give them the key to your cell and await their leniency. if you blame your ex-wife or mate or teacher. if you blame the government. There is no darker place than the one you’re in when you’re playing the blame game. Similarly. This gives them the freedom to practise their intentions until they become expert enough to create something dazzling. city or town. It is easier to hunt down a culpable scapegoat than it is to take the blame onto your own shoulders. Those who blame do so because (deep down) they are afraid of responsibility. then it means your situation will not change until God favours you. Those that take responsibility 69 . People with higher levels of consciousness always place themselves at cause. It is not their fault that life is shit so they look for someone. your country. They understand that their reality is one of their own making and if they want to change it they have only to look to the man or woman in the mirror.

And it was at this point that I got very excited. unhappiness and penury with my very worst. I could become an expert and I could practise as much as I wanted. It was only when I took a hard and honest inventory of my life that I realised I was the creator of it all. happiness and material possessions with my very best intentions. I wasn’t exactly sure how.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD do so because they are excited about the possibilities of creating a new and ever-improved reality. whilst at the same time creating violence. And that is what I did. I was excited because I knew I could learn by using my own inadvertent experience as a reference point. That made my reality very unpredictable. in both worlds. And where the details were foggy I could borrow from the library of information that is currently available on the power of intention. I was scared because although I realised I’d created this juxtaposition of realities. So how do you practise intention? 70 . I could learn from my own experience. In my time I have created health. before I accepted responsibility. I could trace every good and every bad result back to intentions – or strong and persistent thoughts – that I’d had. sometimes concurrently. It was at this point that I got very scared. illness. Personally. I resided consecutively. wealth.

I placed myself in front of world-class teachers. But more than anything else I practised judo. until I was 71 . I watched judo. the Koran. I actually lived and breathed judo. until I could close my eyes and feel them. Not just your own intention. I drilled and drilled and drilled the techniques until I was expert. but the universal intention that you click into when you practise. Search out the truth from another source. and the Tao Te Ching. Even new science is catching up with theories of Quantum mechanics (see the film. if you desire. with study and diligence.INTENTION First you have to accept that intention is a creative force. it is in the Bhagavad-gita. To become a strong judo player I read everything on judo. It is in the Bible. If you don’t at least have an intellectual understanding of your own power then you are doomed to spin in an ever increasing cycle of random creation where life will bring you joy one day and a punch in the eye the next. Buddhism’s basic tenant is that we create our own universe. Once you accept the premise the training can begin. You practise intention the same way as you would practice anything that you want to become expert in. What The Bleep Do We Know or look at Deepak Chopra’s work on the science of intention). I talked judo.

any of Deepak Chopra’s works. reading it. you will rise rapidly into the higher echelons. If you practise four or five times a week. The Elephant and the Twig. read it. If I want to create good health then I intend good health by seeing it. If you make it your life. intention is about everything I do. watch it and live it until eventually they manifest all the fine and grizzly details in their own bodies. Intention is no different. then I do the same thing. you’ll start to see some decent movement. 72 . they talk it. There is nothing like actual hands-on experience to cement a truth in place. If it is wealth I am after. attend the seminars (if you don’t invest in you who will?). They think illness.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the techniques and could handle judo players on the international scene. they see and fear illness. For me. People that make themselves ill practice intention without realising it. into my life. Buy the books (my book. hearing it. If you are a weekend player. you will get weekend results. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggart). or the opportunities to make it. You start by investing in the information and instruction. then practise what you have learned and be the proof that it works. I dwell on wealth until I start to draw it. talking it and doing all the things that constitute good health.

She read about tumours in her medical books and read articles about the symptoms in medical journals until. the sight in her left eye returned. sometimes months at a time. Interestingly. He was no longer prepared to be an also-ran stand-up comedian dying on stage night after night in 73 . The scan was clear. if her mind was so powerful that it could manifest blindness. she actually started to manifest these symptoms herself. It wasn’t always that way. When the actor Jim Carey was going through a very difficult phase as a stand-up comedian he drove up to Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood hills and decided that he was no longer prepared to work for peanuts. as soon as she got the results. There was nothing physically wrong with her. in a short time. She is at the top of her field. When she was younger and her mind was undisciplined she was always suffering with psychosomatic illnesses that would often lay her up for weeks. how much more could she manifest if she schooled and disciplined her thought and put her intention to work on good things? People that create great wealth click into the same power. She even convinced herself once that she had a brain tumour. She became so convinced she had a brain tumour that she went blind in her left eye. Then she had a thought. She was finally taken into the hospital for a brain scan. She thought about it all day long. She had no tumour.INTENTION I have a friend of a friend who is a very successful woman.

You practise by doing. He was earning $20 million. Ten years later he was an actor in Hollywood. but he wasn’t earning $10 million. hearing. He vowed that he would be earning that amount per film within ten years.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD front of a partisan crowd. So he took his bank book out and wrote himself a cheque for $10 million. smelling and intuiting your intention until your thoughts coagulate and become manifest. Intention is a very learnable technique. He was wrong. Whether you intend to paint the front room or climb Mount Everest. His intention was so solid that he wrote it down and then never lost the faith until his dream was a reality. seeing. the process is the same. And if you intend enough. If you can learn to drive then you can learn to intend. feeling. you can become an authority. Why not try? 74 . and doing involves thinking.

physically-stretching. how exciting. another gruelling. Looking In Another marathon. pain-inducing endeavour where we venture out bravely to our furthest limits. The elements are conquered.Chapter 13 Looking Out. a trophy. the next unchartered landscape that we can not only attack but also tell our friends that we are going to attack so that they can flatter us with their admiration. how very fucking invigorating. How brave. admiration from our peers and awards stacked up on our shelves. a medal. We get a pat on the back. The praise comes at us like a sickly sweet chocolate waterfall and we let it shower over us. But how brave are we? 75 . another black belt. We take a little rest then onto the next extreme challenge. It’s good to be brave.


Do we choose the fights that we know we can win (even though we tell ourselves how extremely dangerous they are?) Are we guilty of racing out there pretending to look for the unchartered when actually we know that all of it is chartered and – although certainly physically demanding – has been done before? In order to be really brave, to be really extreme, to be really daring and adventurous and to really (I mean really) look death in the eye and take our hearts (and our arses) in our hands, we need never do another climb, race another marathon, face another black belt panel or fight another monster on the nightclub door. In fact, I’d say that if we really want to stop pretending, we don’t need to leave the city that we live in, the town, the road, the street, the house, the room or even our own skin, ever again. If we really want to be brave we just need to close our eyes, stop going out and start going in. Fuck Nanga Parbat, fuck the one-hundred-man kumite, fuck the marathon across the desert or the triathlon across broken glass in bare feet. Fuck all of that because it is old hat, it has all been done. That old parrot of a challenge is dead. It is all boringly predictable compared to the real challenge of going inside and taking a cold, hard, honest look at yourself – and then changing the bits that no longer serve. Actually, even before that it would be a start to admit 76


the fact that the man or woman that you look at in the bathroom mirror every day is deeply flawed. The man or woman with ten black-belt certificates in ten different styles from ten different masters who the outside world thinks is granite tough is not even tough enough to leave the job they hate, the spouse who treats them badly, the city that no longer nourishes them and the habits that bleed them dry because they are frightened of real change. Real change is full of uncertainty. The man who impressed the living shit out of everyone by climbing ten peaks in ten months and who lost ten toes to frostbite is not even strong enough to resist temptation. Instead, he loses his integrity by sleeping with his best mate’s wife. For a five second spurty tingle of cloudy liquid, he loses his soul. Most of us think we are tough but most of us are not even tough enough to deal with the greed and envy in our gut, the panic and fear in our chest, the repressed rage that is hooked and fish-boned into the flesh of our throats or the jealousy that rages in our heads. We feel tough but we can’t control what we eat and what we drink and what we ingest. We feel strong yet we let our thoughts kick sand in our faces. We feel manly and yet we fear to cry. We claim power and yet we lack even the power to change. So we go out, we do courses, we listen to lectures, we take yoga (five different styles), we lift weights, 77


or go to step class or learn Qui Gung or Tai Chi. We read the Bible, we devour the I-Ching or memorise the Bhagavad-gita. When we feel spiritual we quote Lao Tzu and when we feel angry we fire invectives from Sun Tzu. We talk about the Upanishads (‘What, you haven’t read the Upanishads?’), we meditate, contemplate, whirl like a dervish, chant, have homeopathy, get our feet massaged, have our scalps fingered by a dark-skinned chip fryer from Bolton, do the tarot, have our runes read, visit spiritual healers, sun worship, go on a fucking retreat and talk to fucking trees. We go out and we do it all. And that’s the point. We are going out but we’re not going in. Out there is the path that is so well-travelled that the ground is flat. There is only one path that is not only less travelled, but not fucking travelled at all. That is that one true path that leads us into the murky quarry, the slushy cerebral dumping ground where the decomposing (but still very alive) bodies of our pasts lie waiting not only for their reckoning, not only for their release date, not only for their say but for their redemption. It is hard to look at what you did, what was done to you, how you were treated and how you treated others. It is hard to look the many versions of the old you in the eye and say, ‘Actually, I don’t like you. I don’t like what you are, what you did. I don’t like what you didn’t do. I don’t like what you became. 78

’ Do the marathon if it serves you. I let me (all of me) go. That’s a mountain to climb. I don’t understand you. stop working out and start working in. I let them go. 79 . I forgive them. LOOKING IN I don’t like what you allowed yourself to become. that is a fearsome one-hundredman kumite (each opponent a version of the old you with a grudge to bear and a bloody axe to grind). you have to face them and say. To ensure the release of these trapped entities you don’t just have to acknowledge them and look them in the eye. Climb the mountain if it is a workout you are looking for. But if you really want peace.LOOKING OUT. ‘I forgive you.’ That’s difficult. but it gets even harder.

he said that if the work didn’t scare the crap out of him. Paul Abbot. This means that we avoid fear at all costs. he said it was fear.Chapter 14 Night-travellers I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had at the weekend with my writer friend. When I asked Paul what it was that most drew him to a new project. In fact. Most of us spend our days looking for comfort and avoiding discomfort. The work that scared him most was the work he wanted to do. he didn’t do it because fear was the key ingredient in making great television (or great anything). The challenge to him and to Paul was not in just facing down the 80 . Ray Winstone said a similar thing to me when we were filming Bouncer. He said he liked doing the work that frightened him.

You may be even more surprised to find that buried within that fear is a 81 .NIGHT-TRAVELLERS fear. It is only that they change their perception of fear. take a step towards it. They do this because (as Rumi said) the moon shines on night-travellers. People like Paul and Ray are what the poet Rumi called ‘night-travellers’. what it is that you are avoiding? What is it that you fear? Maybe now is the time to be brave and turn into the dark. Because of this we avoid things that frighten us. people who go into the night and hunt down their fears. The people who see red lights as green. They feel it just the same. They learn to love the adrenalin and they turn that raw energy into success. which means we stop growing. It is not that these people do not feel fear. sometimes even more acutely than everyone else. Light and knowledge are given to those brave enough to turn and face their fears. break off its four corners or – if you are really courageous – dive into it head first and see what happens. You might be surprised to find that fear is not the enemy you always thought it to be. So. creep up on it. but in using the fear as alchemistic base metal to make gold. Most of us walk around thinking that we are the only people in the world who feel fear. those who lean into the sharp edges are the very people that become ultra successful.

Be a night-traveller! 82 . Courage is the killer of weeds like fear. Then watch your threedimensional demon turn into a two-dimensional cartoon and quickly disappear. Be brazen. Fear feeds on your terror. Be brave. that molten metal of fear inside you turns to gold. Make the decision. look it in the eye and dare it to do its worst. When you stand and endure. And when the fear rears its ugly head. Start now. It is nourished by those who turn and run.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD golden nugget of information that can’t be found anywhere else on this earth.

I wasn’t sure.Chapter 15 Reciprocal Returns The lad that was visiting my master class was young. defeated walk) and his eyes (they hit the ground like dropped marbles) that he’d expected a little more of himself. I could tell by his face (dispirited). maybe 22. To be frank. he was completely out of his depth. He knew (he later confided) that my class was tough and that the fighters were top drawer but he thought he might at least be able to hold his own. Not only was he getting tapped out. He knew his way around the mat as far as the ground work was concerned but he was getting tapped out again and again by a succession of my instructors. I watched him fight three or four times and all I could see was that 83 . and very fit. After the session he asked me where he had gone wrong. his gait (shoulders hunched.

Footballers who train on a Wednesday and play on a Sunday but dream of kicking a premiership ball in front of 50. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why there was such a disparity between his ability and that of my people. hoping that his training routine might shed some light on the issue. Fair-weather golfers who get their clubs out every summer and then wonder why their handicap remains a handicap. I see the same attitude in all walks of life. He was training recreationally and expecting professional results.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD he was out-gunned by better players than himself.’ he replied (a little too keenly) ‘I train twice a week. ‘Well that’s your problem. This is a bit like planting cabbage in your garden and expecting roses in the summer. This problem does not just confine itself to the martial arts. ‘Oh.’ I remember thinking: Twice a week! Without fail! I smiled. ‘You are training twice a week. Without fail.’ I told him. By Monday night they’ve already done your week’s quota of training.’ My visiting martial artist was making the same mistake as many. these guys are training twice a day. The writing world (similarly) is full of part-time hacks that throw out a 84 . ‘How often do you train?’ I asked. Painters who imagine that three hours at the easel is going to turn them into the next David Hockney. I was confused so I decided to do a bit of probing.000 screaming fans on a Saturday afternoon.

And its mandate is very clear: Step up. banging in the minimal investment and then sitting around waiting for the floodgates of great returns to open up for them. or shut up! 85 . This (I have found) is a universe that gives out what it gets in. People want gain without pain. It means that you can have anything if you are prepared to do the work and handle the pressure. The law of reciprocal returns is very exciting. profit without investment and reward without risk. I am amazed by the amount of people I see who are treading water. This is good news and bad. Good because it means that anyone who invests their time diligently can expect great returns. bad news because those that want to change what they are getting without changing what they are giving have a lot of stepping up to do. And when it doesn’t materialise they look outside of themselves and blame. The returns are entirely reciprocal.RECIPROCAL RETURNS weekend script and then bitch because Hollywood does not recognise their genius.

a medicine. My sojourn on this globe is not a long one. 86 . As a man that has suffered a lot I am no different to anyone else. if my suffering is unavoidable. I want my suffering to be for a reason. If I can’t do this. maybe a chant – that might help ease your pain. We can all endure suffering if we know why. Nietzsche said that if we know the why we can endure almost anything. an idea. then I at least want to make sense of it. a sentence. maybe one century if I am blessed. something – a word. a premise. I want to understand the nature of my suffering and replace it with a heavy dose of peace.Chapter 16 Suffering We are all suffering. There is a fair chance that you are suffering right now and are looking for balm. so I don’t really want to spend any of it suffering unless I can profit from the experience.

I (like most) left my city. And if we keep covering the message with artificial blankets (painkillers. Instead I found direction in the guise of a finger that pointed not East. not to the temples of Tibet or the churches of Rome. The suffering that we inflict on ourselves. From my limited understanding. Every time I try to run I am encouraged to wait and see. and the suffering that is inflicted up on us by circumstance. it could lead us into a long life of unnecessary pain. There is no joy and little 87 . Why? Because suffering is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. That never knowing could kill us. in books or conversations with gurus. my garden. Go inside. but back to Coventry. Have a good look at the discomfort that resides there. we should (if at all possible) eradicate.SUFFERING In my bid for knowledge. left my country. I found no such relief (other than the temporary inspiration that good information affords). back to my house. drugs. it pointed back to that dark nothingness that pervades all things when I close my eyes. Every time I go out I am directed back in. The suffering that we bring on ourselves. drink. there are two kinds of suffering. actually even left my body in search of the pain panacea. my body. denial) we might never know what the suffering means. Outside. or worse still. Every time I hide I am advised to try visibility instead. sex. Deeper still.

But I have since learned to recognise that I am the centre of my universe. The moment we rely on outside forces for our well-being. greedy. Do we enjoy being a martyr to our suffering? At one time or another I have fallen into all of these categories. most of your suffering will end. if you place yourself at cause and expect nothing from anyone. we need clinical self-honesty. poor. No one can offend us. depressed.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD gain in suffering unnecessarily. If you are really honest. perhaps because we are too lazy to change. angry. make us envious. under-educated. an MA. make us jealous. The responsibility lies with you. find out how to get well and stay well. if you own everything. become the most 88 . fat or unfit. Become an expert. If your suffering is health related. perhaps because we do not know any better. no one can let us down. To stop this kind of suffering. a PHD. These are all circumstances that we readily accept. The responsibility for my health. we become their prisoners. and if you can stop your negative thoughts. not with the government and certainly not with other people. disappoint us. why not make it your life’s mission to understand your body. Nearly all suffering can be traced back to the self. do a degree. wealth and happiness lies not with the hospitals and doctors. cheat us. no one can abandon us.

put yourself into an apprenticeship with the wealthy and the rich. These options are open to everyone. Study business and make yourself a man of great economic knowledge. earn your worth and ease your suffering. lectures and courses. Don’t blame any outside forces. Don’t blame the conglomerates for stealing too much of the pie. The information is all out there. It can be done. then put that information into use and be the proof that it works. Study economics. So get out there. ask them their secrets. Blame is the predictable response of the masses and once employed it knows no end. Don’t blame the government because of the poor minimum wage. History is brimming 89 . make it your life’s work to understand the cerebral schematic and put that information to work for you. make that information public so that you not only ease your own suffering. Scour the internet. If your suffering is economic. It has been done. much of it free. There are no more heroes. Talk to the psychologically robust. who do you think is going to change your situation if you don’t? There is no one coming to your rescue. you ease the suffering of all those who find themselves in your situation. In fact. If your suffering is mental.SUFFERING knowledgable person on the planet with regards to your health. But information will not drop out of the sky. You need to hunt it down. invest in books.

I would say that personal development is a natural by-product of enduring pain. What I have learned from my suffering is that I don’t like it much. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl said that all suffering is relative. ‘You think I’m torturing you. I am boiling you to make you sweet.m. but have become massively successful at the same time.. Much of the greatest stuff I have learned in the last 46 years has come directly from periods of suffering. Whether you are lying in bed sweating and manically depressed at three a. the cook pushed it back in with the ladle and said. But if I can’t get out of it immediately. I’m not. I am going to learn as much from it as I can. In fact. When it tried to jump out to escape its suffering. It has been proven by psychologists that the symptoms of manic depression can be as frightening to the sufferer as climbing out of a dug-out with a bayonet to engage in mortal combat. your suffering will feel as though it knows no depths. The Sufi poet Rumi said that the chickpea only got its flavour from being boiled in the pot. or you are a Holocaust survivor (like him).’ 90 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD with folks that have taken responsibility for their own suffering and have not only succeeded in easing their pain. that is. if you are wise enough to look inside rather than outside.

If there is a way out. Take responsibility. Do not turn away. until you get it. Frankl suggests doing something radical. then the 91 . Do what is necessary. Suffering is wise counsel. In these circumstances. Your suffering wants you to see something. You must be worthy of your suffering. The answer is always hidden within the problem. but you endure it stoically while actively looking for a solution. my recommendation is that you take it. that we have the opportunity in our darkest moments to reach a higher consciousness through endurance. you will find yourself back in the middle of your suffering. If you don’t. Pain is a great adviser. But heed the advise on offer. leave your suffering behind. Right now if you can. Address it. It is an opportunity offered to few people. If you go into your pain. we all tend to look for an escape. if you are brave enough to do that. make decisions. change and adapt. to sit in it and examine it minutely. If you are brave enough to look closely at them. Once you are in possession of the vital information you need. they offer you great secrets. He said that there is great liberty in suffering. Sometimes you can’t. but leave it behind. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. This doesn’t mean that you just accept suffering. again and again.SUFFERING When we are suffering. Handle it.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD self-inflicted suffering will disappear (because it only feeds on fear). No one can help you with this. 92 . It’s up to you. Suffering ceases to be suffering when we truly lose our fear of suffering. Once you take responsibility for yourself. you will draw assistance from every living corner of the universe. Your life-imposed suffering can offer you transcendence.

Yet all around me there were martial artists practising 93 . It didn’t seem to matter whether you were fighting on four acres of mown grass or three-square-feet of pissy pub toilet. I specialised in punching. pugilism suited me. culturally. This is why (and when) I started to experiment with very close range combat. There was rarely any room for manoeuvre.Chapter 17 The Art of Restriction When I first started working as a club doorman all those years ago. the thing that struck me most (scared the shit out of me actually) was how restrictive a real confrontation is when it comes to space. because punching is the range most consistently available in a real fight and. the fight always ended up very close and personal. I realised way back then that in a fight you very rarely had more than 18 inches of space to work in.

etc. I could summon tremendous power and explosion without even moving my feet.’ By using this technique I was able to summon instant power from any position and at any range. a toilet cubicle or a farmer’s field. their bellies.). When you have no range of movement. To try to mend this gaping hole in contemporary combat. tension and stiffness completely impede any power. This restriction forces you to ‘find’ something else.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD in a range of three feet or more and using techniques that would not be possible in a live encounter. with their backs against the wall – from anywhere that massively restricted their movements. And then there was 94 . Very quickly. for me and for anyone else interested in taking it to the concrete. Whether I was in a car or a phone booth. chair. kneeling positions. I was able to draw an explosion of power from (seemingly) nothing. And you do. we started to develop massive relaxation through necessity. so that (for instance) if I was in a phone booth or a toilet cubicle or on a packed dance floor. Because of restriction of movement and space. even the most restrictive. I encouraged my students to punch from seated positions (floor. From restricted positions you are unable to employ hip twist or use momentum to garner power. from on their backs. I developed what I called ‘restrictive training. We started to employ joints (the more the better) in the technique.

’ It has as many names as there are cultures. You won’t find it in a book or on a tape or even in a class. Personally I don’t want to place a name to it or throw a shroud of mystique around it. I can’t claim to know what the energy is other than an accident. It works so well that folks have to start pulling their punches because the power they are generating is too much for their bones (they start picking up injuries) and too much for the bones of their opponents. an indefinable energy.’ the Japanese ‘qui. What I really love about it is the fact that it enables you to view life restrictions from a totally different and positive perspective. The Chinese call it ‘chi. Not only does restrictive training force people to find some other source of power than the one that they normally employ. It would be no exaggeration to say that I get people punching twice as hard within one session using this method. people become big hitters much faster than normal. Then there is that certain something that only restriction training can develop. an explosion at the end of the technique that cannot be brought or bartered. But being able to punch hard is not what excites me about restrictive training. one of the first things that starts to grow when space is at a premium. Just as restriction can trigger 95 . Restrictive training helps you to become accident prone. it also acts as an accelerator. You realise very quickly that intent of power is power.THE ART OF RESTRICTION intent.


the release of chi in physical training so can restriction in life (if viewed correctly) enable you to discover a reservoir of hitherto untapped power. Lance Armstrong was given a life-threatening restriction called cancer. He had a choice. Lie down and take it and probably die within a year, or find something that would not only enable him to heal, but also give him the power to win the Tour de France an unprecedented eight times. Do you know that he was so dominant in the Tour that the organisers changed the route several times to give the other riders a chance at winning? I was bullied at school and suffered badly from depression. I had a choice. Accept this and live a life of mediocrity and fear, or find something inside me, some force, some power that would not only elevate me above my playground tormentors, but also take me to the world stage in martial arts and in writing. Everyone reading this is restricted in one way or another. It might be a health issue or a relationship problem, it might be money or fear. Your restriction could be that you are without direction or hope. If you are like most people (I hope you are not), you are probably looking outside of yourself for someone to blame. If you have the courage to stop projecting and look inside youself you might be surprised to find that there is an infinite amount of power available to you within the very restriction you are trying to escape. 96


Many people (I count myself as one of them) go into life and search out restriction in order that they might grow. They seek out tough martial arts schools where they are at the bottom of the class, difficult jobs where they feel out of their depth, situations that scare them, places (inside and out) that expose their cracks. Some people are really brave and restrict themselves with the little things that make the biggest difference – things like diet, personal discipline, counselling, and psychotherapy. Others (and I also include myself in this group) have no need to go in search of restriction because restriction has been thrust upon them by illness, money or family problems. Either way, your route to the stars is not to turn your back on restriction and kick and scream and wish it gone, but rather it is to turn into it, grab your spade of courage and dig deep. Somewhere within the problem you are facing right now is the answer that you have been looking for your whole life.


Chapter 18

The Blame Trap
As a species we have the power to change the world (certainly our own world). Of this I have no doubt. In fact, I am the living embodiment of my ‘live-it-now and do-it-all’ philosophy. I live my life in the creation business. I create my world. I love every minute of it. Thus far I have managed to make manifest every desire I have set my intention on. This is not meant to sound smug. I see myself as a very ordinary person who has managed to liberate himself from a life of unnecessary toil. If I can do it, believe me, anyone can. I measure my accomplishment not by the balance in my bank (though lots of noughts can be very pleasing), but by the fact that when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night, I feel happy. That’s what makes me a success. 98

Success. If you blame the environment. circumstance or your upbringing. That’s when you find yourself thinking. or to teach but they can’t because their life. People are forever telling me that they would love to write.THE BLAME TRAP As a child I always dreamed of making my living as a writer. It does exactly what it says on the tin. their circumstances – even God – won’t allow it. you 99 . ‘Is this what I really want to do with my life?’ This is especially true if you feel you have no other choice. one I used (to death) as a younger man. their environment. If you can’t do what you want to do because you wife says so. you’re stuck where you are. the kids. their wife. the mortgage. It’s when you spend your life doing the things you don’t like that the Monday morning feeling stretches through until Friday afternoon and Sundays are a dread because they precede Monday. It is probably the most over-used and certainly the most disempowering combination of words you could ever make the mistake of employing. is very subjective. you give her all your power. is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This very statement. to sculpt. As an adult that is exactly what puts bread on my table from one day to the next. to garden. That means that until she says yes. As long as what you do makes you happy then it would be fair to say you are a success. Your idea of nirvana may be – and very likely is – entirely different from mine. of course.

then by definition you are exactly that. As a fledgling. and by extension. ‘Why am I there?’ Just hope that your first answer is not. And. I hated my lot but. of course. Two-thirds! Now if you don’t love the bones off your job. The reason I know this is because I have fallen into the same trap more times than I care to remember. my lot was never my fault (is it ever?) The answer is as simple as a Greek drama. You probably spend two thirds (at least) of your waking life at work. It takes bollocks of cast-iron to take the reins but if you want to trail-blaze then riding shotgun is not where it’s at. again. Admit ownership of your future then set about building a palatial existence that makes you happy. if they don’t have to drag you away from the office kicking and screaming at the end of each day because you want to do more. I spent my days wallowing in procrastination. until they favour you. it means that. you’re glued to mediocrity. blame and self-pity. then you have to ask yourself. Think about the job you do for one moment. ‘The money!’ 100 . If you believe you are powerless (the moment you fall into the blame trap you are powerless). makes all those you love happy also. if you are not inspired to the point of exhilaration about the nuts and bolts of your current employment.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD give all your power over to these inanimates. Take back the responsibility for your own creative power.

and sometimes it scares the living shit out of me. I have become comfortable with discomfort because discomfort is a sign that I am growing. I like being scared. It wasn’t always this way. What’s the use of a blue ribbon when you haven’t even run the race? It is difficult. even out of my depth. I hated it to pieces.THE BLAME TRAP I am emphatic about this message so please don’t think me conceited when I tell you that I love my life. I want to be precariously balanced on some craggy precipice where I can see it all. I thrive on the unpredictability and (if I am being honest here). You see. when you love what you do it stops being work and becomes fun. Now I enjoy my life so much I don’t want to sleep at night. let’s keep things in perspective here. for sure. working your brain into mush 101 . I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of some cornflake-size comfort zone. but please. I want to be out there experiencing everything. I agree. You can’t temper a blade without putting it through a forge. My working life is unconventional certainly. unpredictable definitely. ‘Yea. it has to be hard. I love being me. I love being overwhelmed. But I like unconventional. sweeping around a metaphoric lathe. Carrying a hod on a building site is back-breakingly hard. I spent the first half of my life living other people’s idea of normal.’ Of course it’s hard.’ you might say. ‘but (the obligatory BUT) it’s really hard.

even if it is just the fact that we do not choose to change where we are. At least when your sweat is vocational. when you are hacking away in the right jungle. Any job.’ 102 . The moment we think that we lack this power our thoughts make it so. ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t. that entails bargaining two-thirds of your life just to make the mortgage is harder than a big bag of hard things. (Oh yes we are. We all know about hard. you are right. Someone dead famous (so famous I can’t remember his name) once said (and he was right).’ We are where we are in life through choice. It’s what we do on a daily basis. especially the ones you despise.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD on a computer everyday can be hard with a capital H. you can sit down at the end of another satisfying day and think. ‘This is what I really want to do with my life. we have the God-given power to reinvent ourselves.) If we don’t like it.

Before I recount the lesson. it drains my energy. like all addictions. I let it go around about the same time that I stopped drinking alcohol. Let’s say that I am highly aroused by pornography. I haven’t for many years. I don’t read it. it is my genes. I do like pornography. I have a confession to make. I don’t entertain it at all. Sometimes it completely disempowers me. but it is true. I don’t really like it because.Chapter 19 The Pornographic Wasp If I told you that it was a wasp that taught me the dangers of pornography you’d probably accuse me of being a honeycomb short of the full hive. But I don’t judge it either. Actually that is not entirely accurate. So I don’t watch it anymore. I don’t like porn because it is an addiction and 103 . In fact. well. I am highly aroused by it because it is innate.

it is all about mastering my body and mind through the control of self (all growth starts with the self). For me. Most people are infected with at least one of these. you closed the door to all your addictions.) It is a trick that I learned from Gandhi. alcohol. and I tackled (and continue to tackle) my senses through the deliberate slaughter of my addictions. Killing your addictions opens the door to freedom.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD addictions are prisons for the weak of will. At the time of his death he had some three hundred million followers. some people have them all. gambling. who used this method of abstention to change the course of human history (no less). The first and best and most immediate way to control the self is via the senses. pornography and people pleasing. Those who are heavily addicted are prisoners to their addiction. and when we kill those addictions we win our power back. 104 . (Our main addictions in this society are drugs. He believed that each of us has one major addiction and that when you closed the door to that one. The Kabbalah teaches us that all our power. I want to be strong and I want to be free. So my issue with pornography is neither a moral nor ethical one. And when we have our power back we can do anything we like with it. all our wealth is locked into our addictions. And when you controlled yourself you literally controlled the world. I won’t be weak neither will I be prisoner to my senses.

you have to start asking yourself a few questions. often dangerous. I convinced myself that a little bit of porn was OK as long as I kept control of it. But with something as powerful as sex (especially for the sexually-profligate male who has about a million years of procreational conditioning in his genes) moderation (I believe) is an untenable philosophy. ‘Is this something I can indulge or will it always be an addiction looking for a host?’ We all 105 . I’d go into book shops to purchase works on philosophy. When you find yourself doing things against your own will. each injection needs to be stronger and sooner than the last to get the same buzz. It is small wonder then that people who initially indulge light flirtation with porn quickly progress to the hardcore. The question I asked myself was. It got so that it was difficult for me to walk down the street without checking out (and imagining what I might do with) the curves of every shapely female that happened to pass by. Like any drug you indulge. I always justified it to myself as ‘just something blokes did’ until my appetite grew more and more controlling and started to threaten my integrity. psychology and spirituality and suddenly find myself in the erotica section flicking though the pages of porn made to look like art.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP This is what my friend the wasp taught me. Like most people. mutations that no longer resemble the procreational act of intercourse with a loving partner.

Because I no longer felt that I had a choice in the matter. I sat in my garden drinking a fruit juice and I did what I always do when I need an honest answer. Whilst I am not saying that porn will kill you. I indulged it. The urge came on. because an addiction that is alive is always an addiction that is a threat. So I put down the empty glass. I knew that I wanted to lose this addiction but I just couldn’t find enough reason to stop. And weak. I felt shit afterwards. Many famous folks have ruined their careers.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD think we can indulge and flirt around the edges of our addictions. When I opened my eyes 106 . It needed to be stopped. I have many friends who have not given their addictions the respect they demand. many their lives. I’d just indulged in a porn fest (even though I really didn’t want to) and was feeling… controlled. It had become a habitual cycle. Some lost their jobs. It is a true story. I kept rationlising and telling myself that ‘a little bit won’t do you any harm. This is not a metaphor. closed my eyes and asked for a sign. others their liberty.’ Deep down I knew that the little bit was getting bigger and bigger. And this is where the wasp comes in. their health and their relationships because a flirtation with fire set light to their whole lives. but deep down we know that really we can’t. Their flippancy has (or will) cost them dearly. I am saying that it will imprison you (whilst letting you think that you are still free).

my wasp flew straight to the bottom of the glass where there was a pool of thick juice. I got the message. had a look around. each time going a little deeper into the glass and each time drinking in a little more than the last.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP there was a wasp hovering just above my glass. I tipped the glass so that the wasp – having kindly passed on its wisdom to me – could fly away to live another day. stole a residue of my fruit juice and flew away. each time more confident. He stood right in the middle of it and drank and drank and – started to drown. 107 . He was up to his little knees in juice and could not lift himself back out. landed. Within a few brief seconds the wasp was back. when he was ready. each time staying a little longer. When he returned the third time he was more confident. He was still being careful. Arrogant now. I smiled as I watched the wasp return again and again. took several globs of juice and. Until the final time. I never indulged my addiction again. The small indulgence had quickly turned into a life-threatening addiction. It landed briefly on the glass. He flew straight into the glass. flew off. took a glob of juice from just inside the glass and flew away again. he hovered.

Chapter 20

The Power of Books
To my pleasure, I have discovered the hidden power of books. What we need to help us rise above the crowd is information. Actually, I stand corrected. I know plenty of people with information by the bucketload but for whatever reason they do not use it. I also know many people who use the information they have, but use it wrongly. Aspiring to achieve wisdom is the correct way to use information. One of the best ways to collect information (and of course inspiration and aspiration) is books. When I spend thousands of pounds on books, I consider it an investment in me, the person most likely to get me where I want to be. In books, we have the opportunity to access the knowledge of a thousand life times and assimilate it until it becomes us. I am 108


the living embodiment of what I have experienced and a big part of what I have experienced has been gained through the medium of reading. I always tell my little lad (when he is struggling to get into a book) that readers are leaders. Small libraries make great men. It is something that I believe emphatically. I have yet to meet a hugely successful person that wasn’t a voracious reader. I even took a speed-reading course so that I could get through more material. It’s all out there just waiting for you, and if you go to a public library, it’s absolutely free. Can you imagine that, all that knowledge, all the secrets, all that information for the price of a few beers and a curry? I’ve spent up to £50 on a single book if it was the one that I was looking for. People often say that the only way out of the rat race is through football or sport or pure luck. It’s not true. The best way out is through the library. Mention any famous name and I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find their whole life – highs, lows, successes, failures, likes and dislikes, and the secrets to their success – between the pages of a library book. Now if that is not offering it all up on a plate for your inspiration, I don’t know what is. I find it absolutely incredible that you can go into any bookshop (or even the Internet) and buy the lives of the greatest men and women in history. You can find out why and how single individuals changed the course of history. 109


One man, William Wallace, witnessed the slaughter of a whole village of people and decided that he was going to do something about it. He told his wife. She said, ‘But you’re only one man.’ That one man changed the course of history with his strength and courage. Have you read about this great and saintly woman, Mother Teresa? She cared for thousands and touched the hearts of millions. Just an ordinary girl who did extraordinary things; a village girl who touched the whole planet. What about the courage of Churchill, the tenacity of Thatcher, the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, the power and love of Sai Baba, the focus and dreams of Bill Gates, the rise and fall of Bonaparte? The list is absolutely endless. And they are all there waiting in books to point you in the right direction. All these extraordinary men and women saying, ‘Let me tell you what I’ve learned in my life.’ What an incredible opportunity. I am sitting here with a book of drawings by Saul Steinberg staring up at me. Steinberg isn’t dead; he is alive and kicking in my office. He sat here, alive in his work, saying, ‘What can I do for you Geoff? What can I teach you about my life through my work? Ask me, I’m here.’ Did you know that Escher lives with me? You’re damn right he does! And he only cost me about 20 quid. It was an absolute steal, I have to tell you. A steal. He is here with me now. All his drawings 110

And yet I’m plagued by an immense feeling of inferiority. can feel insecure. The very fact that the great Escher can doubt his own work. An ordinary person can reach the stars. I spend more than that on car parking in a single week. When I am feeling a little insecure about my work he is there to help me. ‘I’ve absolutely no reason to moan about the “success” of my work. I’d never have believed that he would have any insecurities at all about this great art. a desperate sense of general failure. But in his book he said. ‘we all feel insecure at times. ‘Listen. Mr Gandhi has taken 111 . I remember first looking at his work and being filled with awe. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think. can feel like giving it all up.THE POWER OF BOOKS and all his words. Geoff. “Is this any good?”’ Escher has taught me that insecurity driven into your work is what makes it great. I went on to become a world-renowned artist but there wasn’t a day when I didn’t doubt my work. Yet this one book has given me more direction and more hope than any amount of money could have. nor about the lack of ideas for there are plenty of them. The price was so little that I am almost embarrassed to mention it. Where do these crazy feelings come from?’ I have Gandhi’s life story in front of me. makes me feel that I am not on my own and that it is OK to have bad days.’ he tells me. The book cost eight pounds.

He has given me the secret to inner power. It’s not enough time really. That one single thing is ‘me. There are only so many things we can learn in one lifetime. Can you imagine that? And reading his book taught me that I could. only so many lessons we can learn with the finite years that we are allotted. and we all could do exactly the same thing. so that you don’t have to do the thousands of experiments they had to do to learn what they learned. you could. By doing so he built up a personal following of over three hundred million people. You can take a thousand great people and learn the lessons they gleaned from their lives.’ Gandhi learned how to lead himself. That’s why books were invented. This also means that nothing is beyond you once you decide to ride the bull. He has shown me that I only have to master one single thing in my life and I can have anything I want. If you discipline yourself and get a lot of reading done. These people have left their stories. their ‘instructions for life’ so that you can get onto the fast track. he has taught me that faith in yourself and your God means immortality. and he made loads of mistakes along the way. you can become the manifestation of a thousand great people. Take what it was that made them legendary and make it a part of you.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD me behind the scenes of his life and shown me the rights and the wrongs. Once you have acquired this 112 .

The biographies of great people are simply that. street maps to life. it’ll be the best habit you ever make. It’s so wonderful. If you wanted to get around London the best thing to do would be to buy a street map. read the stories. All you have to do is get out there and buy the books. They have departed to another plane and left you the treasure maps.THE POWER OF BOOKS knowledge you can use it to power your own journey of discovery. It’s great. 113 . learn the lessons and put them into action. If you make reading a habit.

Chapter 21 The Reciprocal Universe I spoke with a guy the other day who told me that his passion was directing film. I knew he was kidding himself. Take Shane Meadows. Directors do not talk. He wanted to direct so he directed. He lived and breathed directing. they direct. He wanted to be a director so he got together with a few mates and a camera and directed a bunch of short films that got him noticed. All he did was talk. He was not a member of any film groups. He did not wait for the grants or the permissions or the favours or the 114 . He did not direct his own films on the weekends. It was all he wanted to do. He worked a nine-to-five job that bored him completely. He wasn’t directing. Today he is one of the most respected and sought after directors in Britain.

the producer. he got his mates and he got busy making films. the actors. the tea boy and the runners have read the first draft) they go away and write it again and again and again until it positively shimmers. the financers. he said.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE fates. I have a friend who wants to write. That is what directors do. They sit on their arses and bleed into their computers until they have 120 pages (that will need to be paired painfully down to 90) of carefully crafted prose. Neither was it the time or the tides. He got a camera. a computer and maybe a trip to Cannes where he could pitch his film idea and get the funds he needs to sit and write the great work that he has in him. He has 115 . Then (after the director. It was only the money that was holding him back. I know that my friend is not a real writer because he throws something together over a weekend and blames the fates when it comes back unread and unwanted. He tells me that he lives and breathes writing. It was simply the fact that he was not a writer because writers write. he is going to invest in a course. I have another friend (several actually) who wants to make a splash in the world of martial arts. Writing is his life. But it was not the cash that was stopping him. Writers do not talk a good script. the designer. As soon as his money situation is better.

If only he was as lucky as me and was able to give up his job and train full-time he felt sure that he could hit the world stage. The universe is touchsensitive to our intentions. next week or next year. They create their own favour. He dreams of going to Brazil to train with the Gracie family (but its too far). Brazil will always be too far a trip and his wife will never agree to Japan. the time. He is not really a martial artist with something big to say to the world. 116 . with the best folks on the planet. It waits only for you. There will never be enough money to purchase tutelage from the Gracies. they find the money. They live and they breathe it. He is just a man with a bag of excuses that get ever more diverse and inventive. He might even do a little stint in Japan (but his wife isn’t keen). the permission.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD something big to say (he says) and the minute the circumstances are right (perhaps next year?) he will say it. but because my friend does not really want them enough. Let me tell you that it does not wait for tomorrow. But he knows deep down (as I know) that the circumstances will never quite favour him. whenever and wherever they can. He thinks about training in the US with the Machado brothers (but it’s too dear). Martial artists train. They move with such force that the whole universe is forced to react and create their dream. And this is not because any of these things are not possible.

Book yourself on that directing course you always wanted to do. make it real now. it does not exist. Sit and write. But nothing will move until you move. Jump and a net will appear. Start the writing class that has been in your mind forever. And if you are scared. if the very thought of acting makes you quiver with fear. like the millions before. 117 . serendipity only manifests when we take up our positions and act. a red light for the majority. Discomfort is good. GOOD. fate does not shape circumstance without action. Nutrients do not mobilise until the seed of intention is planted. Whatever it is that you have been dreaming of. Set a deadline date to make your first film. All growth has a kernel of discomfort.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE So let me ask you this: When are you going to make a move? When are you going to command the fates to do your bidding? When are you going to wave your baton of intention and orchestrate the universe? Don’t wait like the masses for tomorrow. before you. become the dust of a generation that died with their best music still in them. Now is the time to act. go and run. but for the minority – those with spunk and drive and ambition – discomfort is a green light.

It keeps me on track.Chapter 22 There is No Land Rover ‘There is no Land Rover. There is… NO LAND ROVER. It stops me from being fooled into resting up and celebrating too soon. There is no Land Rover. loosening my helmet straps before the fight is won. ‘There is no Land Rover.’ I say it over and over again in my mind with the rhythm of a metronome. ‘There is no Land Rover. You’ve just hiked goodness knows how many miles 118 . Picture the scene. There is no… ’ I suppose I should explain what I’m talking about before you get to thinking that me and my glassysmooth marbles have parted company.’ It keeps me sane. You are on selection for the SAS.

Jump in the back. it drives off leaving you stranded and confused and distraught – and fooled. Your mind rushes forward to a hot tea. They take an imaginary towel and throw it into the ring of metaphor.’ he gives you one of those wry smiles and says. living on fresh air and a frozen chocolate bar.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER over the icy.’ Most people. sipping a hot tea) tells you to continue on. Home. total collapse an ever present vulture on your left shoulder. You quicken your pace. past the graves of former aspirants. The Land Rover. hovering somewhere between breathlessness and total exhaustion. When you ask him. take off your boots. over hills and valleys. ‘Until you see the Land Rover.’ So all the way around. utter failure an odds-on favourite on your right… and then you see it. working around strains and cuts and injuries. maybe some food and bed. You smile for the first time in days. But just as you get within a few feet of your golden carriage. toe-blackening Brecon Beacons on little more than a Mars Bar and the promise that ‘when you see the Land Rover. 119 . The sergeant (dressed in a warm coat. They have been tricked. Like a watery oasis in a dry desert. do not continue on. walking on blisters. you’re home. have yourself a brew. ‘How much further. and (for the majority) that trick is enough to kill their dream. at this point.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD It has beaten them. They only placed enough fuel in the tank to get them to the Land Rover. I had friends who lost their lives when they loosened their helmet straps because they believed that the enemy had retreated and the fight was (as good as) won. I remember this every time I think a script is going to be optioned (definitely this time). ‘There is no Land Rover. a battle is going to finish (imminently) or a big deal is as good as done (just ‘t’s to cross and ‘i’s to dot). it does exist. There is no Land Rover. Especially when everyone around you is telling you that there is. I have seen many strong fighters beaten just at the point where they thought victory was certain. Well. So many people fall for the Land Rover trick and give up just short of greatness because they allow themselves to believe that the Land Rover exists. there is instant enlightenment. and not beyond. sort of. For those who do manage to pick themselves up and continue (for an added and unspecified distance). but only when you’ve got 120 . I’ve lost count of friends who have celebrated a deal before that all important eleventh hour. Until they are literally sitting inside the vehicle of choice with a hot tea. Regretfully. the Land Rover does not exist.’ And that becomes their mantra. Not even a foot beyond.

and the tea in your hand. when the cheque is in the bank (and has cleared) and when the back door is bolted and secured. Until then is it little more than a phantom. And that will remain my mantra.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER your arse on the seat. 121 . The Land Rover is always ‘just over the next hill. Until then there is no Land Rover. I take my celebratory beverage because that is the only time the Land Rover is real. It is healthy to remember this if you intend to reach the top in any game because (believe me) that big deal is always looming.’ When the film is on screen.

’ he said halfscoffing. I see. ‘I suppose it’ll be the Oscars next then?’ His attitude landed like a heavy right. ‘Oh. ‘if that’s what I intend to do then why not? Why not! There’s a guy in Preston. There was bitterness in his tone that made me regret the call. who’s won four!’ (If I have to I’ll go and get one of his!) After replacing the receiver. It’s what you do when providence lights your day. ‘Well yea.Chapter 23 They Laughed at Lowry Excitedly I phoned a friend to tell him my news. still reeling from his unexpected response. I’d just won an international development award for my film script Clubbed (based on my book Watch My Back). I had to tell someone.’ I replied (a bit too defensively). half laughing. Nick Park. I assured myself that my 122 .

Lowry first placed his oils to canvas. Equally insane was the idea that two inexperienced men (with an investment of only $30 and a penchant for good ice cream) could one day take on confectionary giant Hagen Das. giant-slaying industry. When a young German climber told his friends of his bold intentions to climb the perilous mountain Nanga Parbat solo – a feat never before attempted. Ben & Jerry turned their $30 investment into a billion dollar. and I should never let him.S. often encountered when leaving a muddy comfort zone en route to a starry ideal. They slandered him at every opportunity for trying to be more than (they thought) he was. When the painter L.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY friend’s attitude need not ruin my day. neither would I be the last. I wasn’t the first to be laughed at for daring to dream. let alone achieved – they didn’t just laugh at him. Reinhold Messner climbed Nanga Parbat solo only six weeks after conquering Everest without oxygen. They called him insane. the haughty elite of the contemporary art world held their chuckling bellies and laughed the gentle northerner out of Manchester. too. you know. ‘Who (they asked) does he think he is?’ Later. They called him an amateur and his work (at best) naïve. when the (so-called) mighty had crumbled under the might and beauty of Lowry’s 123 . Criticism. cynicism and jealousy are a familiar trinity. hold me back. Who’s laughing now? And they laughed at Lowry. or any others.

I turned to my workmate at the factory – elbow-deep in suds. not only in spite of his detractors.’ he said. I can well remember being bored to depression in the distant past and thinking. ‘There’s got to be more to life than this. nails full of shit – and said to him. and his genius shone through the oils (bidders eventually paid millions to own one of his originals). This is a job for life. I can take solace in the fact that they laughed at Lowry. scoffed at or laughed about – often by those closest to us. All of us have watched the uncouth kick our dreams around the floor like cola cans.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD vision. he winked at me (as wise old veterans are inclined to do).’ Seeking answers.’ He laughed at me.’ 124 . ‘There must be more to life than this.’ Manchester opened The Lowry Galleries to honour his work. I love that! Don’t you love that? All of us have at one time or another had our ideas stamped on. ‘This is your lot. but also perhaps because of them. Lowry had the last laugh. His later exhibitions were dedicated to ‘the men who laughed at Lowry. ‘you should be grateful. He became global. I love the Lowry story because I have been the butt of many an unkind ‘who does he think he is’ jibe when I dared to swim against the societal stream. then leaning forward (as though about to tell me a secret).

’ Shortly after my tête-à-tête with Plato-of-thelathe. 125 . What he said next – not just the words. be whomever I want. never to return. And look what happened to him. watch out! They laughed at Lowry. It was like a dry slap across the gob. All the things I wanted to do. I can do anything. And more. I snapped my broom (very symbolic) and left the factory forever. things I was told I could not – I did. And I am still doing them. This is my life. go anywhere. I think he could tell by the way my jaw went slack and my eyes hit the floor like marbles that his shopfloor philosophy had failed to enlighten me. We all can. And for those that laugh at my dreams.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY It was the job-for-life bit that scared the tripe out of me. but the bitterness and conviction with which he delivered them – didn’t either. ‘You’ll still be here when you’re 60.

but if you haven’t. their faces scrunch into question marks when I ask. I am just making the point that if you have the will you’ll always find a way. ‘Is there a toilet where you work?’ Not that I recommend the loo as the healthiest environment to write your latest – or indeed first – bestseller. I now suffer loss of feeling in my lower legs and a permanent red ring around my bum. far from it.Chapter 24 Time My first book was written whilst sitting on the toilet in a factory that employed me to sweep floors. then lack 126 . In fact. after six months of sitting on the throne writing. so you can imagine the fun I have when people comment – on finding out that I am a writer – ‘Of course I’d love to write a book but I haven’t got the time.’ Invariably. or you harbour any doubts or fears.

A great proportion of successful entrepreneurs built their conglomerates out of cottage industry. The next convenient excuse (believe me I have used them all) that people lean towards is lack of facility. But by the same count. Pelé. but that’s no excuse for not starting out. ‘time’ was not forthcoming and the vehicle refused to move. whenever I failed to fully commit myself to a goal – and there were many such occasions – or when I did not place my heart in the driving seat. I found the time. And. Many a thriving. arguably the greatest football player of all time. I wanted desperately to write a book. multi-million. When I wrote my first book I was doing two jobs and bringing up a family.TIME of time will always be a convenient excuse not to live your dreams. (Do you have a toilet where you work?) Granted. at some point in your development. tools and facilities will be important and lack of them can hold you back. and certainly no pretext for not succeeding. Many godzillionaires made their fortunes not only despite their handicaps but also because of them. elbow-greased tools.(even multibillion-) pound business was started from a rickety garden shed held together by chunks of work ethic and a set of hand-me-down. honed his ball skill kicking coconuts barefoot (ouch!) on the beach. I was fully committed to writing it. He 127 . hey. Richard Branson’s first office was a public phone booth.

My only incentive. rather it is because the authors never send their work to them. I had no time. no machine with fail-safe grammar and spell check – unless you count my wife who kept saying things like. Until I could afford a word processor (later a computer) my working tools consisted of one blue biro (with perfunctory chewed top) and a lined. but he did have a forceful desire that attracted success and convinced bank managers to hand over the readies without a security or reference in sight. and how many are stolen while people stand in the shadow of trepidation? For instance. The only thing I did have that set me apart from the crowd was desire. Or even worse. ringbound reporter’s pad kindly donated by the factory stores. And it’s not because prospective publishers turn down their work. ‘You’ve spelt that wrong’ – and no hefty commission-carrot tempting the words from my often uncooperative unconscious.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD had no facilities and no money. they never actually write it in the first place. Whilst I may have lacked the 128 . Do you realise how many genius ideas are lost when the moment is not seized. All my early work was hand-written and in severe conditions that did not lend themselves to my quest. it is thought that some of the greatest writers of each generation never see their name in print and are never published. was the dread of having to work in the factory for the rest of my life. my driving force.

Branson and Gates only get 24 hours a day. it accommodates committed souls. never to be seen again. It is what we do with our time that determines where our lives may lead. Those who don’t make the commitment rarely. it can be stretched. It also means sacrificing some of the little things that act as timeeating termites. Paradoxically. I am sympathetic to family and work commitments. it will be gone forever. And I figure that when it comes to using our time we would be wise to recognise that we are all allotted the same amount. make the grade. minute and hour in the present. Really! In my experience. I brought up four children so I know all about responsibility. if we fail to use it profitably. time can be cruel. ‘haven’tgot-the-time’ is just a pseudonym for ‘haven’t129 . if ever. But as I said. And I know how hard it can be. For me it means getting up early and going to bed late. But above all it means refraining from using the time-honoured excuse. My want was always greater than my lack. ‘I haven’t got time’ because you have. Once you have desire and you totally commit yourself to the process it is almost as though the whole universe conspires to make it happen. time is very malleable. We immortalise our time when we invest every second.TIME contemporary tools of the scribe and my writing quarters were certainly not ideal (one might say that they were piss-poor). those searching for the grail of achievement. I did desperately want to write.

Not least because I refuse to be a 90-something coffin dweller spending my days regretting the things that I failed to do. If you want something enough. You don’t have to look far to see the people that don’t make that commitment. Now I make a commitment. and I mean really want it with your heart and soul. They’re the ones sitting in the factory canteen bemoaning their existence and blaming the world for their lack. nothing will stop you. You’ll always fit in more if ‘more’ is preceded by a no-excuses personal commitment to making it happen.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD got-the-will’. nothing will get in your way. For many reasons. 130 . I was once one of them.

I was as vulnerable as the lobster shedding its shell.Chapter 25 Waterfall You know how it is sometimes. And who would want that? I was there again recently actually. I do hope so. So I did what I often do between the night and day of personal transformation. I figure it is simply a purgatory situated somewhere between the edge of our comfort zones and freedom that we will continue to visit as long as we continue to grow. You are going through an emotional stretch and things feel a little (or a lot) dark. In that dark void. Life had cornered me with a heavy dose of highlychallenging workload and unexpected family illness. I went for a walk in the 131 . As uncomfortable as it might be I know that without adversity there will be no advance. You feel sort of needlessly tortured.

It had been raining heavily all week and. But today nature was not forthcoming. the Niagara that all of us experience during difficult times. the waterfall was gushing over the precipice into the stream below. Nothing I observed offered any solace. I hit the last five minutes of my walk and stood on a bridge that acted as both a crossing point to a small stream and an observation platform to a beautiful little waterfall. Then I intuited something else. Immediately after the fall. raging and seemingly uncontrollable emotions that were racing through my mind and body with an energy that I did not recognise as my own. a deeper more profound understanding could 132 . something that gave me the inspiration that I was looking for. Until.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD local country park to see if nature had any lessons to offer. I liked this observation. Nature has many lessons. In fact the deepest part of the whole stream was right there. In fact much of what I have learned thus far about pain has been through observing how (as the Bible says) the lilies in the field neither spin nor toil. that is. The turmoil of the fall seemed to exactly mirror the internal struggle that I was experiencing. something that might rub a little balm across my throbbing brow. I noticed that in the stream immediately after the fall the water was very deep. It helped me to realise and understand that after adversity. as a consequence.


be found. I stretched back in my mind and realised that my greatest life lessons thus far, the reference points that helped me to negotiate ever new and ever burgeoning challenges, had always been born out of hard times. The good stuff that I wrote about in my books, talked about in my videos/podcasts and dramatised in my films and plays was the fruit of the hard harvests that life had given me. Then I looked further along the stream, on the other side of the bridge, and I noticed that the water there was very calm. This told me something too. It told me that even the most violent storms do not last forever, and that after adversity there is always peace; after great darkness comes great light. This gave me hope. At the time I desperately needed it. Often when we are in the very middle of a crisis our pain feels infinite and without end. My observations told me that no single feeling can last forever. As I continued to watch (and this is completely true) I noticed a duck swimming down the stream. It didn’t seem to notice that about ten feet in front of it the waterfall was at full rage. I wondered how the duck might deal with it. I watched and observed and was amazed to see that a few feet away from the waterfall the duck simply lifted itself out of the water, flew above the waterfall and landed safely on the other side of the bridge where the waters were calm. Amazing. What I loved about this was the fact that the raging waterfall was still there, the duck 133


just chose to rise above it. It did not attach to the turmoil below. I walked away with my first smile in weeks, determined to no longer attach to my pain, knowing that my understanding would deepen because of my experience and that there was a heavy dose of calm coming my way sometime soon.


Chapter 26

We Are All Dying
I have some good news and some bad news for you (as the joke goes). The bad news – and I’m very sorry to be the bearer – is that we are all dying. It’s true. I’ve checked it out. In fact, I’ve double- and triple-checked it. I’ve had it substantiated and, well, there’s no easy way to say it, we are dying. It’s something that I always kind of knew, but never really chose to think about too much. But the fact is, within the next 70 or 80 years – depending on how old you are and how long you last – we are all going to be either coffin dwellers or trampled ash in the rose garden of some local cemetery. We may not even last that long. After all, we never quite know when the hooded, scythe-carrying, bringer-of-the-lastbreath might come-a-calling. It could be sooner than we’d like. I have watched death from the sidelines, 135

We owe it to ourselves to go out and do them now before it’s too late. the trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve always planned to take. the time is never quite right. We’re dying. there isn’t a tomorrow. We already know how the story ends. your mind’s-eye dreamjob. you know. So putting your dreams on the back burner until the circumstances are right means that they’ll probably never be realised. Scary. Now that I have depressed you. the West End play you want to direct – you have to do them now. It’s official. I find. Knowing that we are all budding crypt-kickers takes away all the uncertainty of life. all those plans that you have on the back burner. see. We get to choose the meat of the story. here’s the good news.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD quite recently in fact. So. the great things you’re going to do with your life ‘when the time is right?’ Well. this minute. Our only regrets in life are the things we don’t do. It needs to be brought forward and done now. and nothing underlines the uncertainty and absolute frailty of humanity like the untimely exit of a friend. Tomorrow? It’s all a lie. as quick as your little legs will carry you. pronto. There’s only a promissory note that we are often 136 . in a hurry. The novel that you want to write. All that’s left is the middle bit and that’s down to us. The prologue and epilogue are already typed in.

When you wake up in the morning it’ll be today again and all the same rules will apply. Tomorrow is just another version of now. ‘Have as much salad as you like but you can only go up once. Make sure that you go back home knackered because you got so much done. We come this way but once so let’s make the best of the short stay. 137 . Like the once-a-year holiday to Florida or Spain.WE ARE ALL DYING not in a position to cash. ‘should haves’ and ‘would haves’. It doesn’t even exist. a bit faster if you don’t invest your time wisely) will be gone and you’ll have nothing to show for it but regret and a rear-view mirror full of ‘could haves’. Like the hungry people waiting for their main course. Fit as much into the short time there as you can. Fill your bowl. an empty field that will remain so unless we start planting some seeds. They’re not greedy. Your time. which is ticking away as we speak (at about 60 seconds a minute chronologically. They just know that they only have one shot at it. Have you ever noticed when you go to a buffet restaurant how they give you a bowl the size of a saucer and then say.’ Life is like that small salad bowl. I love watching people ingeniously stack the cucumber around the side of the bowl – like they’re filling a skip – and then cramming it so high that they have to hire a fork-lift truck to get it back to the table. we can cram as much into that tiny bowl as we can carry.

not tomorrow. No amount of clock watching will change the inevitable. you’ll have achieved so 138 . So what I’m thinking is (and this is not molecular science) if we are dying and our allotted time is finite. how we invest it. a writer. why the hell aren’t we doing all the things we want to do NOW? What’s all this back-burner stuff? And why are we all waiting for the right time when we already know that the right time isn’t going to show? The right time is the cheque that’s permanently in the post. that determines where our lives may lead. we all get the same 24 hours as Branson and Gates. There is no time like the present.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD If you don’t want to be a postman then don’t be a postman. whatever. Start filling your life with the riches on offer so that when the reaper arrives. We all have the same amount of minutes. If you can’t have what you want this very second the least you can do is start the journey now. So I say stop waiting and meet providence half way. It’s the girl who keeps us standing at the corner of the co-op looking like a spanner. She’s stood us up. the right time never arrives. while the inspiration is high. It’s just what we do with our time. And now is the time. Just don’t be something that you patently do not want to be. Give it up and be a painter. it never arrives. this minute. We wait. a tobogganist.

Better to leave a biography as thick as a whale omelette than an epitaph. He didn’t do much did he?’ 139 .WE ARE ALL DYING much. Act now or your time will elapse and you’ll end up as a sepia-coloured relative that no one can put a name to in a dusty photo album. ‘Joe Smith… hmmm. crammed your time so full that he’ll fall asleep waiting for your life to flash before your eyes.

He wanted (he told me) to be the best at something. He was living without a purpose. ‘Why not look down the back of the settee?’ 140 . He was feeling a little sorry for himself (it’s allowed – he is human) because he woke up one morning recently and realized why he’d been feeling so depressed for the last month or so. It is easily done. he was going to train in multi-disciplines and become a martial arts maverick. My friend had once courted high aspirations. Not that he’d never had a purpose. treading the world stage with the greats. Being the funny guy that everyone knows I am I could easily have offered the hilarious advice I give most people who have lost something important. rather he’d had one and (somehow) lost it.Chapter 27 What do You Want to do? I had a letter today from a friend.

’ I’ve been here a hundred times myself). I am not talking about what he thinks he should do or what others think he should do. my friend included a list of all the things that he had tried and not completed (this is part of the self-pity.’ and perhaps one of them might even be the thing he could be the best at. he talked about how well his partner was doing with her career. But from the gloomy tone of my friend’s correspondence I figured that even a jokester as original as I might be wasting time with mirth when wisdom (and a quick solution) was being sought to the age-old problem: How do I find my purpose? How can I become the best at something? In his email. work that he thought might make ‘a great career. or what is expected of him. In the whole scope of things none of this is important. and how he was moving jobs and cities to support her (because he loved her) and also how pleased he was for her success. In colloquial speak. ‘Poor me. I wasn’t interested in what will earn him the most money or even what might offer the ‘I’ve-made-it’ status that so many people crave. He also included a list of jobs he quite fancied doing.’ 141 . ‘It’s all bollocks.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? It is amazing what you can find if you move a few pillows and slide your fingers and wrist into that scary abyss. look at what a failure I am. What he didn’t include on his list was what he REALLY wanted to do.

Do you really want to be bartering that 142 . I tell them that their right to choose differently will set them free. No more and no less. What do you really want to do? If money and people were not an issue what is it that you would most like to spend your entire waking life doing? What is it that you love so much that time disappears when you do it? What is it that puts a light in your eyes at the mere mention of its name? That (I told him.and seven-figure incomes who hate the jobs that they do with a passion. Consider this: You spend two-thirds of your waking life at work. I tell me) is what he should either be doing or at the very least making plans to do. Forget society. Forget responsibilities. A job with great career prospects and great money has nothing whatsoever to do with following a dream. It is their ignorance that keeps them imprisoned. Forget what you think and are told is impossible.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD What I really wanted to know. Forget income. I tell them they are wrong. I tell you. Forget what others want and expect and demand. They tell me that their life/job/family/commitments/mortgage keeps them imprisoned. Forget expectation. forget the government. I have friends on six. and what I asked him (and what I now ask you) is this: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? I mean REALLY.

‘I don’t remember saying that it was easy. Only that it was possible. I used to work full time as a martial-arts instructor. if everything came easy what would be the point? I have found that there is no flavour where there is no labour. What you work and strive for has a taste and texture that are only born from effort. When I did my 40 rounds on the bag after a five-mile run. It is not that easy. If you are the best at what you do (and it is easier to be the best when you are passionate about what you do) the money will follow – it always follows passion. And I did train. I’ve got people relying on me. the feel – it was almost miraculous. ‘I’ve got a mortgage to pay. rich poets. and certainly the most difficult 143 .WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? much of your time just for a lifestyle? And anyway. It is at this point that people usually shake their heads and arch an eyebrow (as though I really don’t get it) and say something like. It was my job to train for a living. the smell. It was a cup of tea! The taste. And anyway.’ Of course it’s difficult. Similarly. wealthy martial artists.’ To which I usually reply. the texture. a cup of tea was not just a cup of tea. who says you can’t earn just as much money and enjoy just as good a lifestyle in a career that you love? I know millionaire plumbers. when I got my black belt in judo after some of the hardest training in my life. If it was easy everybody would be doing it.

And it wasn’t until I buried that sickly heap of selfpity that I finally got on. Or they claim that the person on the inside sold out. walk under it or over it. End of story. So hard is where it is at. ‘it’s who you know’).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD grading I’ve ever done. And the only reason they themselves didn’t make it was because they maintained their integrity. This is the excuse offered by the people who just don’t step up. I was a changed man. The lad that walked into the sports centre for the grading on Saturday morning was not the man who emerged on Saturday afternoon. How noble. hard-done-by or elbowed out. never get invited to the Emperor’s banquet. And what a heap of horseshit. those that avoid ‘hard’ like it is a piece of shit on the floor. If you are good enough you make it. knew someone on the inside (because. as we all know. had it easy. If you don’t make it you look back into your self and take responsibility for that failing and either try again or quit bitching. They wine because they feel overlooked. How do I know? I have used the same excuse many times on my way to where I am now. undervalued. All those who walk around it. They sit outside and (many of them) bitch about how the people inside got a lucky break. 144 . It is the prerequisite to success.

How was he ever going to try for the next level when he thought that he was already there? So. He also wanted to be the best at something. a decent fighter with a whole heap of potential who wasn’t taking that next step. He wanted to find it again. I can’t work out what is holding him back. I know many people (especially in the martial arts) who already think that they are world class and are constantly wondering why the world is not acknowledging them. Where are you really? If you are not sure (and this is a hard 145 . ‘This guy has got so much potential.’ She was so right. He was asking for my advice. I remember looking at one of my friends. global. He could be world class. I would say that four elements need to be in place.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? Back to my friend. It wasn’t happening for him and I couldn’t work out why. To be the very best though. 1) First you need to acknowledge where you are right now. Don’t inflate your ability and don’t be self-depreciating. You need to do a brutal inventory of your level. What I have learned from my 46-years of life is that anyone can be the best at anything if they are prepared to invest themselves in it (my book Shapeshifter has more on this process). though he was unsure of what that something might be. world class. ‘He thinks he is world class already.’ She looked at him and said said to me. I said to Sharon. give yourself an honest check-up. He had lost his purpose. This is important.

3) Once you have your purpose in place make sure that it is something that you personally believe you 146 . If your purpose is not clear. Once you have a realistic assessment of where you stand on the hierarchical ladder. son. you have to make sure the second element is in place. but at the same time is not afraid to tell you that you are just not cutting it. A very famous drummer was approached by his teenage son. ‘Then you’d better get busy because at the moment you just ain’t doing the work. it’ll find you when you are ready.’ he said. But if you are really serious about finding purpose don’t worry. ‘I am going to be a world-class drummer. the ‘what’ in question is probably and usually something that you have always wanted to do since you were a child and would be prepared to do even if there was no money involved. someone who is not afraid to tell you that you are great. Finding a passion is often difficult for many people because while they want to do something great.’ His dad looked at him and said. From my experience. This needs to be someone that you trust. 2) You need an absolute passion for your subject matter. they can’t always work out what.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD one) ask the one person in your life who will tell you honestly. a search is in order.’ The reply was harsh and to the point but this is the kind of honesty that you need if you want to be great. usually the kind of search that goes in and not out. ‘Dad.

It is about surrounding yourself with it and above all else it is about putting in the (thousands of hours of) practise (under escalating 147 . It is about reading it. maybe you feel too old. 4) Ironically. Scan the book shops and Internet for proof to the opposite. what you do needs to be something that. You don’t have to look far for sterling examples of people who have achieved the most outrageous success. too young. They talk. hearing it. too weak or too poor to make the top tier. talking it (but not too much talking). seeing it. If you are not sure that you can. The martial artists talk about Lee or O’Neil. Many people talk about being the best at this and that. eventually. you can earn a living from because to be the best at anything you need to work at it full time. smelling it. And walk. Once you have your four elements in place. the guitarists talk Clapton or Hendrix. eating it with your breakfast. it is about making that talk ‘walk. writing it. watching it. feeling it. Experience has told me that anyone can do anything. despite all the elements. the screenwriters talk about Abbot or Webb Peoples but when you look closely that is all they do.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? can be the best at.’ And walk. if you want to aim high. And talking doesn’t make a champion. It is about taking it to bed with you and waking up with it on the tip of your tongue. supping it through the froth of your beer.

If this is a time of confusion for you. ‘Hey. If you want to be the best. retrace your steps to a time when you were inspired. Be worthy of the suffering and the struggle. let tell you about struggle! I remember the time when… ’ So. Confusion and struggle are the pre-cursers to major breakthroughs. Beware. Aiming for pinnacles is uncomfortable. so that when you arrive and people come to you for advise and complain about how hard their life is and how they are struggling. get excited because that alone makes this is a great time. There is hardly any air up there in the higher echelons and you can suffer. pick up the old scent and make a great adventure out of finding your purpose. The universe is in dire need of adventurers and it is waiting for your contribution. 148 . stop talking and start doing. a time of struggle. But that’s good. if like my friend you have lost your purpose. Don’t let it down.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instruction) that is needed before the world stage offers you its boards to tread. You will never be a great anything if you haven’t suffered. you can say.

Chapter 28 Who am I to be a Success? I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently with people who really want to achieve some major goals in their lives but are plagued by a false belief that what it is they are aiming for is somehow not possible. Most accomplished people feel this way at one time or another. ‘And even if it is. It might help to know that you are not alone. often even after major successes. They just 149 . I know how debilitating it can be and I really do know how you feel.’ they say to me. My heart goes out to all of those out there inflicted by this dreadful disease we call self-doubt. ‘who am I to be a success?’ I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard this comment (and even said the very same thing to myself in my darker moments).

It helps to have some strong points of reference to fall back on. He became massively successful not because he never felt doubt or fear. His body still sweats and shivers with the anticipation of war. He learned to recognise this self-doubt as a pre-curser to all his great works. but he sets himself above his biology and steps into the arena not just despite his fear. but the more you push through the doubts and the more success you get behind you. The great artist Escher was so full of insecurity and self-doubt that he would often feel an almost overpowering urge to stop a project. It took me a long time to believe in myself. Loads of people have the facts.’ Reading and listening will help you learn the process but the only true knowledge is earned knowledge. rather he was a success because he learned to ignore. and even use his fears as a fuel. the easier it gets. Because he recognised it he was able to step through it like a fog.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD learn to override the negative voices in their heads and do the work anyway. Even the master Samurai on the battlefield is not without fear. But knowing is not enough – you have to ‘do. It is inspiring to know that even the master feels the same pain and fear as you. A plethora of folks can 150 . This entails getting a series of (even small) successes behind you to build on. but perhaps because of it. sometimes as soon as five minutes after starting.

it is the art of doing. So to be a writer just keep writing.WHO AM I TO BE A SUCCESS? quote you book. Salinger never published again. Expect the fear. it is the pre-requisite. knockbacks. set-backs. put-downs. write anyway. Once you have ‘made it’ expect the same again.’ So when people ask me for lessons in becoming (for instance) a writer I always say the first lesson in writing is to write. The critics lauded JD Salinger when he wrote the classic Catcher in the Rye. The very same critics savaged him when his second book was not to their liking. Expect discomfort. but information without experience is (what Shakespeare might have called) ‘a giant’s robe on a dwarfish thief. when even your biggest fans call you all sorts of horrible names if your second book doesn’t measure up (in their eyes) to your first or if you change style of try something new. books to novels. All the gold is in the pain. line and verse on how to be the best ‘this and that’ on the planet. despair and the occasional failure. criticism. depression. It is not the art of knowing. Remember this when you try to change in order to grow and the people who love you turn their love to hate because you go from writing articles to books. The same as the first lesson of running is to run and the first lesson of fighting is to fight. Expect trepidation. novels to films or films to 151 .

tinker.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD plays. That is why I was so elated at the BAFTAs because it proved to all of them (and to myself) that I (and they) can do anything. Close friends. tailor. To get the gold. Who are you to succeed? Who the fuck are you not to? You may deem great success an impossible thing. Remember this when you try to change styles or systems or dogmas and the frightened and the wary warn you to ‘leave well enough alone. Everything you want resides just behind that membrane of fear you are feeling right now. I applaud you for it because difficult in the game of life is categorically a green light and not a red. 152 . soldier. Even people that I loved scoffed at me. They liked you as you were and where you were. nothing is. You have to be able to greet fear and doubt and (at times) utter despair along your chosen path and face these demons down. but it is not.’ If you want to be anything – a writer. martial artist. you have to get past the fear. I have lost count of the number of people who told me that I was kidding myself when I said I wanted to become a top martial artist and when I said I was going to write books and films. I can tell you now that you have chosen a very difficult path. sailor – more than the norm.

I think it’s long overdue. We’ve all known (or at least we have always been told) that the food we take in determines the performance we give out. I do.Chapter 29 You Are What You Ingest Have you noticed how many programmes there are on the telly these days about healthy eating? Everything from Jamie’s Dinners to Dr Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat. We also know (or should anyway) that the leading cause of death (heart disease) finds its way in through bad eating habits. If this is the case – and the evidence for it is compelling – why do so many people still continue to eat a diet of poison ivy and expect rose-petal health? Why (as the old adage goes) do we do what we do when we know what we know? 153 . I love it.

Don’t get me wrong. and the brain has several forms of nutrition. There was still a piece of the jigsaw lost. I have to say that I did feel a lot better for it. Thinking comes through and from the brain. It was at this point I had a great realisation. Watch a porn flick or a violent movie and the body will explode with a cocktail of 154 . Healthy eating improves thinking no end. This is not a statement of metaphor. it relies upon it for growth. health was up. In fact every piece of information that you absorb becomes chemicals in your body.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD This is a question I am going to leave you to ponder on. You can get your diet as tight as you like and it still will not bring you optimum results if your thoughts aren’t right. Mostly because the answer is as obvious as your nose. the mainstay being information. It is not physical food that I find completely intriguing. performance improved. and whether that growth is healthy or not depends entirely upon the quality of your information ingested. Energy was up. it is cerebral food. I have spent most of my life reviewing and studying diet in my search for self-improvement (if not enlightenment) and through years of trial and error I managed to get my diet pretty tight. mood found a steady and happy homeostasis. Information is a literal food for the brain. but to take your thoughts to an Olympic level you need to start watching your cerebral diet. But even with my food in place there was still something missing.

listen to on the radio. admire and mimic. read. If you have been around for even two decades you will 155 . Have an afternoon with Deepak Chopra and you’ll probably want to study metaphysics and manifest your dreams out of mid-air. and if it doesn’t get one (of either) those same hormones will quickly turn rogue.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST stress hormones looking for a fuck or a fight. Will and you’ll be inspired to traverse the globe – like he has – in search of great martial mentors. marry. If you are in a shitty part of the city under constant threat of attack don’t believe for even a second that it will not feed your brain. Spend the evening having it large with the pub cynics and you may doubt the very existence of good by the end of the evening. Watch a movie about Gandhi or have a conversation about the global power of love with Mother Teresa and you’ll be filled with endorphins and probably want to save a small village in India or tell someone close that you love them. Stand with gangsters and you’ll get the violent high-octane kick of adrenalin that makes you want to set up a business in the dark arts. But is this the kind of nutrition that you want? I am telling you all this but you know it already. Your daily diet of cerebral grub consists of what you watch on TV. who you talk to (this includes talking to yourself). Even your environment feeds your brain. Have an afternoon with BJJ maverick John B. hang out with.

It needs to be toppedup daily until it is habit. Equally. Here’s the good news and the bad news. you only get the one set). Good news first. One bad day on a food binge can throw you into a state of nutritional crisis (your organs are high priority. So I say be very fussy about what you ingest. If you have the foresight and the courage. Everything that goes in will come out in a similar fashion. cerebral diet can be changed. Stop pretending that 156 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD have experienced enough to know that influences influence. get your bollocks on the table and make the changes. If you don’t want to see the replay of bad health for the rest of your life. I have seen many a good soul turn gangrenous simply because of poor-choice friends. Like physical diet. The mortuary slab has no respect for prior good behaviour. And if they are strong influences they influence strongly. I have seen many a good soul made obese simply because of greedy and poor-choice eating. Bad news. Your environment and influences. cerebral nutrition needs to be consistent. Like physical diet. The good results only last as long as the good information. what you watch and read and who you talk to can be changed in the beat of a healthy heart. one bad night of poor choice company could throw you in jail or worse.

157 . You are what you ingest.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST what you eat and who you sit with doesn’t affect the very foundation of who you are. So ingest what you want to be.

99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-264-7 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-264-5 In India. young elephants are trained in obedience by being tied to an immovable object like a tree. after trying to break away and being thwarted time and again. Do you ever feel that you are tied to an immovable object and can’t break free? That you couldn’t possibly give that presentation. that you would never be able to go it alone in business. Ultimately. or that you have to remain stuck in a social and lifestyle rut as there is no other alternative? This book argues that what ties you down and prevents you from realising your potential is only a ‘twig’.The Elephant and The Twig The Art of Positive Thinking Geoff Thompson £9. and eventually. it believes that it cannot escape. no matter what it does. a fully-grown adult weighing several tons can be tied to a twig and won’t even try to escape. Geoff guides you through the process of breaking the negative thinking that binds us and reveals the ‘14 Golden Rules to Success and Happiness’. No matter how hard the baby elephant pulls it cannot break free. .

In Shape Shifter. success is always a choice . the first self-help guide of its kind. screenwriter. The exbouncer and factory floor sweeper.How to practise the art of personal transformation. step by step .99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-444-5 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-444-1 What if you could become anything you wanted? What if there was a method of practice that allowed ordinary men and women to transform themselves into beings of extraordinary talent? It is a commonly held belief that the leading lights of society are gifted from birth or just plain lucky.That shape shifting is our birthright as a creative species .That with the right strategy and approach. you will learn: . Bafta-award winning film-maker and author of 30 books. knows this better than most.Transform Your Life in 1 Day Shape Shifter Geoff Thompson £7. now a martial arts expert. but Geoff Thompson believes that anyone with average ability and a strong desire can succeed in any chosen field.

com .www.geoffthompson.com www.summersdale.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful